Tokyo company will pay for telecommuting workers’ online drinking parties

While there’s obviously never a good time for an outbreak of a lethal, highly contagious disease, we are at least lucky that the coronavirus pandemic is occurring at a time in human history when many jobs can be done from home. With modern technology, you can submit documents, forge contracts, access databases, and conduct meetings remotely…and now one Japanese company wants its employees to get drunk with their coworkers remotely too.

Tokyo-based Gree, one of Japan’s largest mobile game companies, has its staff of some 1,700 people telecommuting these days, what with a state of emergency declared for the city. As a tech-savvy outfit, the staff is likely coping better than many in adapting, but Gree’s management is worried about the potential loss of morale, solidarity, and informal communication that comes from working in isolation. After all, if no one’s going to the office, then no one’s inviting each other to grab a drink at the bar across the street from the office after work.

So Gree’s idea is to encourage coworkers have online drinking parties, utilizing the same sort of video chat software they’d use for video conferences. The company is even willing to partially foot the bill, as it’s offering employees a budget of 3,000 yen per month to buy drinks and snacks with.

Employees just need to hang on to their receipts and submit them at the end of the month to be reimbursed. The rules also state that the reimbursement is only available for food and drink consumed in the home (delivery is OK too), since staying home is the safest social distancing strategy. Oh, and non-alcoholic drinks are OK too, since Gree also says part of the impetus for the program is that coworkers who’d ordinarily eat lunch together in/around the office aren’t able to do so now.

While it’s a generous and heartwarming move on Gree’s part, the new program is actually just a simple adaptation of its existing framework under which the company has periodically paid for employee parties. So yeah, the “new normal” of working under coronavirus concerns is taking time to get used to, but at least one company is doing what it can to make the transition tasty and refreshing.

Sources: Nihon Keizai Shimbun via Otakomu, IT Media

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