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More Japanese companies are relying on the services to support the mental health of remote workers

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As prolonged telecommuting due to the coronavirus pandemic leaves remote workers feeling isolated, a growing number of Japanese companies are using online services such as personal counseling software to look after the mental well-being of their employees.

Network technology company NTT Communications Corp., which currently has around 80% of its employees working remotely, has adopted specialized software to organize online consultations between workers and their superiors.

Using software provided by Kakeai Inc., a 20-something worker at NTT Communications, for example, has a 30-minute chat with her boss every two weeks.

“It helps to deal with the little day-to-day work issues,” she said.

Software users register in advance the topics they want to discuss with their superiors, make appointments and send memos or other files if they wish.

As for those who provide consultancy, the software provides suggestions on advice likely to be sought and allows them to enter memos and shared documents on screen.

Kakeai has around 100 customers, including Itochu Corp., Asahi Group Holdings Ltd., NTT Docomo Inc. and Astellas Pharma Inc.

“It can bridge communication gaps better than general-purpose online meeting systems,” said Hidetaka Honda, president of Kakeai.

A service offered by Lafool ​​Inc. uses smart phones to measure the stress level of employees by having them periodically answer questionnaires on a website created for this purpose and provides access to video content offering advice from health professionals.

About 850 businesses have adopted Lafool’s online service, more than double from the pre-pandemic period, according to the company.

In a September survey of 120 personnel affairs managers by business management journal Gekkan Soumu Inc., about 43% said the number of workers complaining of deteriorating health physical or mental had increased during the pandemic, up 8 percentage points from the previous year. .

Feelings of isolation and lack of communication were the most cited reasons for their deteriorated health, according to the survey.

Some companies rely on technologies to analyze how employees use their PCs or monitor their physical responses such as pulse rate and blink rate via a camera.

But Fumiko Kudo, a visiting academic staff member at Osaka University’s Research Center for Ethical, Legal and Social Issues, warns that such surveillance methods could raise a privacy breach issue.


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