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Japan Inc. should use COVID-19 to end excessive formality


Unswerving cyclist
14 Mar 2002
I am totally in favour of "pyjama suits" becoming the new business standard, not just at the "home office"! :LOL:

Anyhow, resetting certain formal aspects of Japanese business culture sound like a good idea.


Amid the chaos caused by the first coronavirus spike last spring, some Japanese companies posed a technical yet urgent question: How can we make the boss's window on the conference screen larger so they can loom over their underlings? Whether this is the COVID version of a corporate joke, we do not know. But it sounds just plausible enough to be true. Japanese businesses honor unwritten protocols for everything, from where you sit in a conference room to how to divide seats in a taxi - the seat farthest from the door in any room and behind the driver in a cab should be reserved for the boss. Often related to a company's organizational hierarchy, these situations may seem like trifling did-you-knows. But this type of extreme formality runs deep in Japanese business culture, stifling employees' sense of ownership and suppressing innovation. Unexpectedly, the pandemic offers a chance to disrupt such staid traditions. At its best, formality reflects the respectfulness of Japanese culture. I admit to appreciating it when the host of a meeting walks the departing guests to the elevator. Both parties bow deeply until the elevator door firmly closes - a ritual I found myself missing during these work-from-home days.

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