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Work Anywhere and Commute by Plane, Yahoo Tells Japan Employees

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(Bloomberg) -- Yahoo Japan is telling its 8,000 employees they can work anywhere in the country -- and even be flown into work when the job requires it -- bucking the trend of companies looking to return workers to offices in the third year of the coronavirus pandemic.

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The program takes effect April 1 and allows employees to commute by plane, which wasn’t previously an option, the company said in a statement Wednesday. While Yahoo is best known for its internet portal in Japan, it’s a unit of SoftBank Group Corp.’s Z Holdings Corp., which also owns the Line messaging app and PayPay mobile payments service.

90% of the company’s employees are now working remotely, according to President Kentaro Kawabe, who tweeted that an overwhelming majority of them said their performance has held steady or improved at home. “So we’re allowing Yahoo employees to live anywhere in Japan. This doesn’t mean we’re denying the benefits of the office -- you’ll be able to fly in when needed,” he added.

Yahoo is setting a commuting budget of 150,000 yen ($1,300) per month per worker and lifting its previous daily cap. In-person communication will still be encouraged as the initiative is also aimed at bolstering morale and wellbeing, with social gatherings to be subsidized by 5,000 yen per employee a month.

The company has had an “office anywhere” remote work system in place since 2014, however it had capped the number of work-from-home days before the virus took hold to five days a month.

Japanese companies have responded to the pandemic by embracing flexible work arrangements, which were rare before 2020 in a culture that once prided itself on direct interaction in the office and long working hours. Panasonic Corp. last week unveiled plans for a four-day workweek, an initiative Mizuho Financial Group Inc. already has underway.

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