NAGOYA -- Toyota Motor plans to introduce a telecommute program as early as August to allow roughly 25,000 career-track employees work at the office as little as two hours a week.
The comprehensive program will target employees at Toyota's headquarters here who handle office work in such fields as human resources, accounting and sales, as well as workers engaging in R&D and other engineering tasks. Certain credentials that employees receive after working for the company for five years or so will be needed to qualify for the program. Toyota had roughly 72,000 employees on its parent-only payroll as of March.
In addition to allowing employees to work on PCs from home to handle clerical tasks, the program will enable salespeople to cut down on travel between the office and customers. Toyota sees the possibility of several hundred employees working from home on any given day.
To prevent data leaks stemming from the theft or loss of PCs, the company will procure a large number of PCs that can only function as client terminals to a cloud computing system, ensuring no data is left once users log out.
The sheer number of employees covered and the fact that they can choose to spend most of their work hours outside the office makes the program highly unique. The leading Japanese automaker hopes this flexible work system will help it retain skilled and experienced workers, since it will enable male employees to spend more time raising children and help female workers continue working after getting married or giving birth.
Toyota also hopes the program will address the growing problem of employees quitting out of the need to take care of elderly parents. A survey by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications shows that around 100,000 people are quitting or changing jobs each year to care for family members. The figure could rise further as an increasing number of baby boomers likely will find themselves needing care.
Another survey by the ministry shows that the proportion of Japanese companies with some form of telecommuting arrangement shot up from 2% at the end of 2000 to 11.5% at the end of 2014.