The coronavirus has disrupted everyone’s lifestyle, but it’s disrupted some of the bad parts too.

As the new year starts, a lot of people in Japan are hoping that it’ll be more like one of the old ones. Not 2020, of course, but one of those nice, pre-pandemic years.

Getting back to the old normal isn’t as quick and easy as turning the page on a calendar, though, and right now the coronavirus is still very much affecting daily life. But it’s important to take the good with the bad, so a recent survey by Japanese Internet portal Biglobe asked Japanese workers, many of whom have transitioned to telecommuting, what they don’t miss about their old workdays.

Specifically, the survey asked “During 2020, what did you come to feel was a pointless waste of time and energy about your old workstyle?” Responses were collected from 1,000 people aged 20 to 69 (with multiple responses), and here are the top results.

8. Chitchatting with coworkers (chosen by 7.4 percent of respondents)

Sure, a little office banter is nice. But if you have a coworker who’s constantly yammering on and on and on about their pet snake, lousy ex, or new workout routine? Then silence is golden.

▼ “…yes, thank you for the ticket to the ‘gun show.’ It was mildly impressive. Now please let me get back to work.”

7. Visiting clients’ offices (13 percent)
6. Business trips (14 percent)
5. My office (14.2 percent)

Negotiations are a necessary part of doing business. But why bother spending an hour going across town when you can handle everything with a 15-minute phone call or video chat?

▼ It’s not like shaking hands is part of Japanese business culture.

Business trips are basically the jumbo-sized version of in-person office visits, making them even bigger time/energy drains, and come to think of it, isn’t going to your own office just a small-scale business trip that you do every day?

4. Paper documents (20.7 percent)
3. Hanko (personal seals) (27.7 percent)

Japanese companies have a long love affair with paper. Not having an office printer, though, might finally convince some businesspeople that maybe they don’t need a hard copy of each and every document.

▼ Triplicate forms “just to be sure” don’t seem like such a great idea when you’re the one paying for toner and paper.

There’s also the fact that in Japan, you can’t mail things from your home, and it’s a lot easier to send a digital copy while still in your pajamas than it is to get dressed and walk to the post office.

Japan’s signature-equivalent personal seals are also looking a lot less necessary these days, since if you don’t have a paper document, there’s nothing to stamp your hanko on. One Tokyo temple even held a funeral service for them.

2. Work-related drinking parties (31.1 percent)

The key here is “work-related.” Some Japanese people do genuinely enjoy going out for a beer or two with friends who they just happen to work with. But when you’re at the pub because your boss invited everyone and you felt like you couldn’t say no, it can make the experience bitter in a way that has nothing to do with how many hops the brewer used.

▼ “Sure, after working a 10-hour shift I do want to get drunk…but I want to get drunk at home.”

1. Time spent commuting (35.4 percent)

Land is expensive in Japan, and while it’s one thing for a company to swallow the cost of rent in a centralized downtown district, that’s a luxury most workers can’t afford. A one-hour-one-way commute is pretty normal for Japanese office workers, and that hour is usually spent entirely on your feet walking to and from stations and standing in packed rush hour trains. Compare that to rolling out of bed and maybe having to walk to your living room, and it’s easy to see why commuting topped the list.

▼ This is about as nostalgic as colic.

The benefits of workers’ new lifestyles aren’t limited to just fewer things they dislike, either. When asked what positive changes they experienced in 2020, some of their answers were spending more time talking with their family (14.5 percent), having more time to think about themselves (19.2 percent), and feeling more relaxed and less hurried on a day-to-day basis (30.4 percent).

None of that means that Japanese workers would go so far as to say that life adjusting to the pandemic isn’t so bad, but at least they can say that it’s not all bad.

Source: @Press
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert images: Pakutaso (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
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