Japan, of course, is infamous for workers performing stupidly long hours of unpaid overtime, as well as a culture that sees leaving the workplace at the proscribed time as a sign of weakness... a lack of dedication to the company.
The company, after all... is seen as being more important than one's family.
It is seen that way... how else to explain why workers hang around the office doing work, waiting until their boss finally leaves... who was waiting until his boss left, who was waiting until his boss left.
(I used "his" - but it could also he "her" - I was saying time in typing that.)
Even when office workers do leave, they often leave together and head for a bar or restaurant for more office bonding... as the office team is seemingly more important than family or friends - they are your friends.
Suitably inebriated the office worker can then head home - maybe it's 9PM... get a bath, a light meal, maybe they can see their kids... and off to bed to get up early to go to work.... for some, - not necessarily the majority - this is a six-day a week thing... some do seven.
Family? No... it's the office family.
So... you would think that Premium Friday's concept of getting workers up and out of the office early would be welcomed with open arms by the common man in Japan - but apparently it's akin to pulling teeth.
When 3PM Friday comes, few workers feel comfortable in getting up and leaving - again there's this fear that doing so makes them look disloyal to the company.
There's also the excuse that there is sooooo much work to be done that they can't afford to leave work early on a Friday.
I get it... you take a day off (anywhere other than Japan), and when you come back, your work has either piled up, or you simply have less time to get that assignment done.
It happens to me... and I'm sure the Japanese think in a similar fashion... but dammit, I just either work faster, work smarter, or have the type of job where I can take my work home and do a bit here and there... I know that's not something every person can do. I'm a writer... I just need a pen and a paper - even if the Internet is down.
But the opportunity to leave early on a Friday... I'm so outta there.
The Japanese don't know how to have that attitude... mostly because they have never been allowed to have that type of an attitude from school on up.
To combat that horrible need to put work above self, some Japanese companies are resorting to bribery...
If a worker leaves at 3PM on a Friday, they receive a bonus envelope containing 3000-yen... which is about US$28.
You get paid to leave work early?
And here's the thing... Japanese workers still aren't doing it.
This is why Japan is so fugged up.
Stop going out and getting drunk with your co-workers. Go home, get a decent night's sleep... get up, do your work without having to take a nap... bring your lunch from home, eat at your desk if you have to, do a bit of work then and there... finish the work at a decent time... go the fug home.
When Friday comes... take the damn bonus/bribery and go home. Save it... spend it on the kids... whatever.
To me... the fact that it is okay to take a nap at your desk in Japan is the most stupid thing ever.
When do you take a nap? 11AM? 2PM?
If you are so bloody tired that you need a nap at work, then you are NOT performing optimally BEFORE that nap...that's where time is wasted... that's why it takes so loooooong to complete your work tasks...
Has no one figured that out yet?
Worker camaraderie is killing worker productivity.
Just go home at a decent hour without being drunk or toasty... and get some real relaxing time before sleeping at least six hours.
I get six hours of sleep. Maybe a bit less.
I do eight hours of work, write a blog, coach kid's sports for a couple of hours, watch all the TV I want to watch, go to bed. I didn't include that 90-120 minutes a day I spend sitting in traffic getting to and from work.
And yet... I get my work done and have time for other things - like family... like me time.
On the weekends when I'm not coaching baseball or hockey, I can spend hours doing yard work - cutting grass, raking, cutting dead branches... here's what I did last Saturday, and Tuesday evening and Friday (we had a work holiday - Good Friday). I also did laundry... have do do some vacuuming... and I'm writing e-mails back and forth in preparation for the upcoming baseball season.
And more writing. And baseball stuff.
It's because I have figured out the work-home balance.
Japan has not. Sad, really.
I can be bribed to not work. I'm sure you can, too.
Why not Japan?
Is it that they are working hard, or hardly working?
PS: I know some of you need more than six hours of sleep - I'm not judging anyone. My point is that you can do what you have to do... as well as what you need to do.