Japanese firms use office drones to encourage overworking employees to go home

TOKYO, Dec. 13 — Japan has been known for long-hour work culture for decades, but some companies are trying to change that. By using office drones that play a farewell song, companies want to remind overworking employees it’s time to go home, local media reported.

Telecom giant NTT East Corp. and two other companies announced last week that they are launching the service next April, the Japan News reported. A monthly service fee of 50,000 yen (450 U.S. dollars) per drone is expected.

The drone, created by a Tokyo-based start-up, will fly around the offices on a scheduled flight path blasting Auld Lang Syne, which is usually played in Japanese malls before closing. The drone can also film inside offices to identify employees who stay after work hours.Will this solve the problem? Some experts doubt that, saying workers will likely take
work home if they are harassed by the music, and the key issue is to cut workloads for them.Working for excessive hours in Japan caused thousands of deaths every year, with victims mostly in their 30s and 40s. A white paper on “Karoshi”, meaning “death by overwork”, last year showed 22.7 percent of some 1,700 companies surveyed had employees who worked more than 80 hours of overtime in a month. – XINHUA