The future of remote work in Japan: Covid-19’s implications for international human resource management


Objective: The objective of this article is to elaborate how the form of remote work can be hindered in an institutional cultural context in non-Western countries.

Research Design & Methods: The article adopts data collection based on public report and news release in reference to the current academic literature of human resource management.

Findings: The article finds that the institutional contexts of non-Western countries, unlike those of Western countries, may hinder or limit remote work because of a poor fit between remote work and human resource management (HRM). The article reveals that the cultural context of non-Western countries, such as Japan, may hinder remote work because of collectivism, high context, high power distance, and high uncertainty avoidance.

Implications & Recommendations: The article implicates a possible diversity of how remote work can be implemented in relation to the institutional and cultural contexts of both Western and non-Western countries, such as Japan.

Contribution & Value Added: The article contributes to future international human resource management by showing that there are some institutional and cultural hindrances to remote work in certain countries. The text contributes to future international business and human resource management by showing that other non-Western countries may have similar problems in terms of the execution of remote work due to contexts that are different institutional and cultural from Western examples.


COVID-19 pandemic; remote work; Japanese firms; managerial work; HRM practices

Abo, T. (2015). Researching international transfer of the Japanese-style management and production sys-tem: Hybrid factories in six continents. Asian Business & Management, 14(1), 5-35.

Aoki, K., Delbridge, R., & Endo, T. (2014). ‘Japanese human resource management’ in post-bubble Japan. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 25(18), 2551-2572.

Aoki, M., Jackson, G., & Miyajima, H. (2007). Corporate governance in Japan: Institutional change and organi-zational diversity. London: Oxford University Press.

Bartik, A.W., Cullen, Z.B., Glaeser, E.L., Luca, M., & Stanton, C.T. (2020). What Jobs are Being Done at Home During the Covid-19 Crisis? Evidence from Firm-Level Surveys. NBER working paper. National Bureau of Ecnomic Research (NBER). Retrieved from on March 11, 2021.

Bhappu, A.D. (2000). The Japanese family: An institutional logic for Japanese corporate networks and Japa-nese management. Academy of Management Review, 25(2), 409-415.

Boyacigiller, N. (1990). The role of expatriates in the management of interdependence complexity and risk in multinational corporations. Journal of International Business Studies, 21(3), 357-381.

Brammer, S., & Clark, T. (2020). COVID‐19 and management education: reflections on challenges, opportuni-ties, and potential futures. British Journal of Management, 31(3), 453-456.

Brammer, S., Branicki, L., & Linnenluecke, M.K. (2020). COVID-19, Societalization, and the future of business in society. Academy of Management Perspectives, 34(4), 493-507.

COJ. (2020). The COVID-19 influence on lifestyle and behaviours in Japan. Retrieved from on March 13, 2021.

Collings, D.G., Nyberg, A.J., Wright, P.M., & McMackin, J. (2021). Leading through paradox in a COVID-19 world: Human resources comes of age. Human Resource Management Journal, Online access only.

Dahik, A., Lovich, D., Kreafle, C., Bailey, A., Kilmann, J., Kennedy, D., ... & Wenstrup, J. (2020). What 12,000 employees have to say about the future of remote work. Retrieved from on February 5, 2021.

Dey, M., & Loewenstein, M.A. (2020). How many workers are employed in sectors directly affected by COVID-19 shutdowns, where do they work, and how much do they earn?. Monthly Labor Review, April 2020, 1-19.

Erik Brynjolfsson, J.J.H., Ozimek, A., Rock, D., Sharma, G., & TuYe, H-Y. (2020). COVID-19 and remote work: An early look at US data. NBER working paper. National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). Retrieved from on February 5, 2021.

Feng, Z., & Savani, K. (2020). Covid-19 created a gender gap in perceived work productivity and job satisfac-tion: implications for dual-career parents working from home. Gender in Management. An International Journal, 35(7/8), 719-736.

George, G., Lakhani, K.R., & Puranam, P. (2020). What has changed? The impact of Covid pandemic on the technology and innovation management research agenda. Journal of Management Studies, 57(8), 1754-1758.

Gordon, A. (2017). New and enduring dual structures of employment in Japan: The rise of non-regular labor, 1980s-2010s. Social Science Japan Journal, 20(1), 9-36. Retrieved from on February 5, 2021.

Hall, E.T. (1973). The silent language (Anchor Books Editions ed.). New York: Doubleday.

Hodder, A. (2020). New Technology, Work and Employment in the era of COVID-19: reflecting on legacies of research. New Technology, Work and Employment, 35(3), 262-275.

Hofstede, G., Hofstede, G.J., & Minkov, M. (2010). Cultures and Organizations: Software of the mind. New York and London McGraw Hill Professional.

Hofstede, G.H. (2001). Culture's Consequences: Comparing Values, Behaviors, Institutions and Organizations Across Nations. SAGE Publications.

Hosomi, M., Sekiguchi, T., & Froese, F.J. (2020). Mentoring in Japan: A Systematic Review and Conceptual Model. In P. Kumar & P. Budhwar (Eds.), Mentorship-driven Talent Management (pp. 43-65). Emerald Publishing Limited.

House, R.J., Hanges, P.J., Javidan, M., Dorfman, P.W., & Gupta, V. (2004). Culture, leadership, and organiza-tions: The GLOBE study of 62 societies. SAGE Publications.

Keizer, A., Umemura, M., Delbridge, R., & Morgan, G. (2012). Japanese management 20 years on. ESRC/ESRC Advanced Institute of Management Research Executive Briefing. Retrieved from on February 5, 2021.

Kotabe, M. (2020). Japanese management and the climate of the time. Asian Business & Management, 19(1), 25-35.

MHLW. (2013). White paper. Retrieved from on February 5, 2021.

MHLW. (2020). White paper. Retrieved from on February 5, 2021.

MIAC. (2020). A survey of tele communication usage. Retrieved from on February 5, 2021.

Morris, J., & Hassard, J. (2020). Home Working? The Present and Future of How and Where We Work in the Context of COVID-19. Cardiff Business School – Cardiff University.

Morris, J., Delbridge, R., & Endo, T. (2018). The layering of meso-level institutional effects on employment systems in Japan. British Journal of Industrial Relations, 56(3), 603-630.

Morris, J., Hassard, J., & McCann, L. (2006). New organizational forms, human resource management and structural convergence? A study of Japanese organizations. Organization Studies, 27(10), 1485-1511.

Morris, J., Hassard, J., Delbridge, R., & Endo, T. (2019). Understanding managerial work in the modern Japa-nese firm: The influence of new organizational forms and changing human resource management prac-tices. Economic and Industrial Democracy, online access only 0143831X19875785.

NIRA. (2020a). A survey of employees conducting tele work (2nd). Retrieved from; on February 5, 2021.

NIRA. (2020b). A survey of employees conducting tele work (3rd). Retrieved from on February 22, 2021.

Nonaka, I., & Nishiguchi, T. (2001). Knowledge emergence: social, technical, and evolutionary dimensions of knowledge creation. London: Oxford University Press.

OECD. (2020). OECD Policy Responses to Coronavirus (COVID-19). Productivity gains from teleworking in the post COVID-19 era: How can public policies make it happen?. Retrieved from on February 5, 2021.

Ozimek, A. (2020). The Future of Remote Work. Available at SSRN 3638597. Retrieved from on February 22, 2021.

Panasonic. (2009). Panasonic Announces Business Restructuring and Growth Strategy for its Motor Business [Press release]. Retrieved from on February 5, 2021.

Russell, J.G. (2017). Replicating the white self and other: Skin color, racelessness, gynoids, and the construc-tion of whiteness in Japan. Japanese Studies, 37(1), 23-48.

Scott, W.R. (2008). Institutions and organizations: Ideas and interests (3rd ed.). Los Angeles: Sage.

Sekiguchi, T. (2013). Theoretical implications from the case of performance-based human resource manage-ment practices in Japan: management fashion, institutionalization and strategic human resource man-agement perspectives. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 24(3), 471-486.

Sekiguchi, T., Froese, F.J., & Iguchi, C. (2016). International human resource management of Japanese multi-national corporations: Challenges and future directions. Asian Business & Management, 15(2), 83-109.

Singh, N., & Matsuo, H. (2004). Measuring cultural adaptation on the Web: a content analytic study of U.S. and Japanese Web sites. Journal of Business Research, 57(8), 864-872.

Smith, R. (2020). How CEOs can support employee mental health in a crisis. Harvard Business Review. Re-trieved from on Feb-ruary 10, 2021.

Timming, A.R. (2020). Why competitive productivity sometimes goes too far: a multilevel evolutionary mod-el of “karoshi”. Cross Cultural & Strategic Management, 28(1), 96-107.

Toyotatimes. (2021). JAMA Chairman Akio Toyoda Delivers New Year Message. Toyotatimes. Retrievedfrom on March 11, 2021.

Vallasek, M., & Mélypataki, G. (2020). Rules on home office work and telework in Romania and in Hungary. Central European Journal of Comparative Law, 1(2), 177-191.

Verma, S., & Gustafsson, A. (2020). Investigating the emerging COVID-19 research trends in the field of busi-ness and management: A bibliometric analysis approach. Journal of Business Research, 118, 253-261.

Work in the Context of COVID-19. (2020). Cardiff Business School COVID-19 and Work WP 2020, Cardiff Uni-versity Retrieved from on February 5, 2021.

Published : 2021-11-18

IwashitaH. (2021). The future of remote work in Japan: Covid-19’s implications for international human resource management. Entrepreneurial Business and Economics Review, 9(4), 7-18.

Hitoshi Iwashita
Vietnamese German University  Viet Nam

Academic researcher and teacher of cross-cultural management in multinational firms. His continuing interest lies in developing theory and practice regarding Japanese management in a cross-cultural context with a focus on leadership, culture, organizational behaviour, and strategy in Asia and other regions. As a corporate educator and consultant, he delivered a number of consulting projects to Japanese multinational corporations facing cross-cultural issues on strategy, post integration, organizational development, and leadership. He completed an International MBA from IE Business School and received a PhD in Business and Management from Cardiff Business School. He was formerly a management consultant, helping large Japanese multinationals to build strategy and leadership in cross-cultural environments.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:

  1. Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a CC BY-ND licence that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
  2. Authors are asked to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.

 Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) only the final version of the article, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access). We advise using any of the following research society portals: