【SF diary Vol.94】How to Communicate among Employees during the Coronavirus Pandemic?

In our company, we have started to work from home since a state of emergency declared by the government in April 2020, however, employees gradually come back to office in the trend of “With Corona”. As mentioned in last president’s blog, we will lift the order of working from home by the end of this year and switch basically to working at the office. It seems that more and more companies across Japan are switching the style of working, at home to the office. Of course, both ways of working have pros and cons, we found that our employees have a various of opinions about working from home in the internal surveys.


※Please check the results of the past surveys below.
【SF diary Vol.58】the first internal survey about working from home Part.1
【SF diary Vol.59】the first internal survey about working from home Part.2
【SF diary Vol.61】the second internal survey about working from home


We decided to lift the order mainly 2 reasons: the government didn’t declare the priority anti-virus measures during the 7th wave of coronavirus, and there are more beneficial in points educating new employees and communication actively among employees. Even though most of employees, almost all are engineers, can set up environments by themselves and work comfortably, we decided to lift by the 2 points.


The biggest impact for employees due to working remotely for almost 3 years has been on communication among them. Even though it would be easy to ask some questions to person next to or have a little talk at a kitchenette in the office, it couldn’t be from each home. There were some opinions in the internal surveys previously mentioned, for example, “I hesitate to ask something because I can’t see what others do.”, “I have a less chat.”

To solve the communication problems, we have been introducing some activities or ideas for stimulating internal communication. The first one is that we tried to have online meetings with camera in order to talk face-to-face as possible as we could. Also, we started monthly “SF-style offsite meeting”, everyone is connected online and talking about one topic. We plan to continue it after all of employees get back to the office since the meetings well received from employees. The last idea is “offitre”, we used to do before beginning of the pandemic, was changed to “remote offitre”, connecting a trainer with offices and employees’ home online. “Remote offitre” has solved the problems of not only lack of employees’ exercise but also communication. If all employees come back to the office, we will continue the online style to be able to attend it from each desk since it’ll be still hard to gather many of them at the same room. In addition, some groups always connect only audio during working time so that they can ask whenever they need immediately. It seems like working at the office, they can feel free to ask each other.


Now that online meeting become common, “shared space”, such as “remote offitre” forementioned last paragraph, is attracting a lot of attention. This is not only meeting occasions, but also demonstrations; we used to bring our original product “AKIRA” to hospitals and welfare centers to demonstrate the functions before the pandemic, but currently we explain online the functions of product while sharing actual “Akira” screen. Also, when field study was held as mentioned in the past diary, we made use of “shared space” to conduct office touring while connecting our office with the school online.


In fact, we have been developing the system of shared space before coronavirus pandemic. The “space” doesn’t mean a place people spend time together; it means the system allows you to view from each AR/VR/MR devices the same conditions of each content by matching the coordinates of the there-dimensional space expressed. It is a foundation of new mechanism as if you are working with your colleagues at the same place by sharing virtual space and real space of AR and VR.


In technical, it is advanced the means of improving the lack of communication even if there is physically space among people. Thanks to the experience of working from home during the pandemic, it remined us once again the importance of communication on working and how the technologies help us. Since some of our employees are ready to come back to the office, it’s getting warm atmosphere like hearing chatting voice from a kitchenette. Wherever we work, we keep an importance on having communication among employees.