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I am Kohei Suzuki. I work as intern at INNOVATUBE from Tokio Marine Nichido Fire Insurance Co., Ltd. (hereinafter, referred to as TMNF) which is Japanese insurance company.

Many japanese companies striving to make its employees be able to work in diverse place. However, they have not found a way to achieve it.
On the other hand, in Innovatube, members often work remotely. Moreover, productivity is not dropped. I found this subject is very interesting, therefore, I am working on this article of how and why working remotely becomes an interesting culture in INNOVATUBE.

I think that remote-work in the company is doing well because they have taken care of the shortcomings of remote-work by ingenuity.
Dense work in the office and remote work have advantages and disadvantages respectively (See the figure below).

For example, remote-work has advantages such as “realization of various time allocation of work and private” and “improvement of productivity by working in an environment that can focus on work”. However, working in an office has benefits of understanding work progress, building team spirit and so on. I think that INNOVATUBE has successfully reduced shortcomings of remote-work. How is it possible?

  1. INNOVATUBE creates a style of office-work and remote-work that works with their culture.

In the company, people does not commit to “full-time remote-work” but “partial remote-work”. Members in the company are encouraged to work in the office together. However, they can work outside office freely if they want to avoid business inefficiency due to time and place restrictions or if there are personal circumstances.

By doing so, the company gains the advantage of “free time allocation of work and private”. At the same time, it also cancels out difficulties of complete remote-work such as sharing vision and mission with members, fostering the spirit of teamwork… which are advantages of office work.

2. Infrastructure improvement

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The company uses “slack”. Slack is a communication tool used all over the world. INNOVATUBE’s Slack has many channels, each is a talk room for a project where members could chat, share files, video call, search for past interactions, etc. And it can be accessed from any terminal such as PC, smartphone, tablet etc.

Compared to telephone and e-mail, slack is faster and less formal. Moreover, it is not necessary to set a mail-address every time, so it doesn’t take much time. As a result, we can share information and report more frequently. Also, we can easily grasp past interactions and contents of files uploaded in the past. Furthermore, since all authorized people can see the conversation, unlike one-on-one communication, it is easy for everyone to share information.

Innovatube uses Slack as a platform to share ad-hoc works and directions among members, including members who do remote work which helps them to eliminate information gap.
By doing so, it significantly reduces the disadvantages of the remote work that it is difficult to understand and manage the progress as well as share direction among team.

3. Rules/cultures
In addition, the company has company rules and culture that can compensate for the weakness of remote-work.
For example, when working in a location other than the office, you must share that fact and hours of arrival with your other members via slack an hour or so before working time.
With the above rules, everyone knows who is doing remote-work and when they will come to the office.
In addition, there are following rules:

・Everyone makes daily report and logs to an internal system where everyone else can see.
・Project leader aggregates individual tasks and progress on Slack and shares it among members.
・Clarify who will do each task, how long it takes, and when to do it.

By doing so, you can clearly divide roles. The difficulty of attendance management is one of the difficulties of remote work, but by clarifying the above, since working hours can be estimated from the progress of individual roles, it is possible to prevent laziness.
In addition, there are other ways to make team members felt a sense of unity, such as a friendly morning assembly, a table-football competition and the arrangement for members in one project to seat next to each others.

Remote-work culture in INNOVATUBE might not work for all companies. However, I think that the viewpoint of “How to maximize productivity by introducing flexible working hours” should be incorporated to every company.
My company in Japan is trying to introduce remote-work right now and is searching for a way to optimize the method. When returning to Japan, I would like to make use of what I have learned from INNOVATUBE.