Wavelock Holdings are supported by TEAM Wavelock.
We confront work and explore the potential of people, technology and material.
This is an interview of the employees who will be creating the future in 2020.
Vol. 4 Infection prevention measures to protect the employee’s safety and to move forward with the new work style.
There is a department that supports the whole employees who work for Wavelock Holdings. It is Human Resources and General Affairs Department.
They oversee general affairs department for all the affiliated companies and establish rules regarding employees of the entire group. There are 14 people working for the Human Resources and General Affairs Department. Out of that, 5 people work in the General Affairs Division.
This time, we interviewed Y.S who is the General Affairs manager. He is a professional in this field working for 38 years in general affairs including the previous positions. He has been implementing new coronavirus infection preventive measures within the company so each person in the company can work in a safe environment and can perform their best. We started the interview in the meeting room where “Clear safe splash shield” which is a partition made with high transparency and non-combustible sheet sold by Innovex is installed. We asked him about the infection prevention measures that have been implemented since this spring and the outlook for the future, which will take a major step forward into a new work style with the aim to develop further.
− Today, we would like to hear about your general affairs work and also how you deal with the new coronavirus problems.
Y.S Yes, the job of the general affairs is unsung heroes and though we cannot contribute directly to sales, but our job is to support the employees who make those sales. It is my job to create the environment where everyone can work comfortably.
− Can you tell us what you have done a little more specifically?
Y.S General affairs is the department that manages the hardware aspects of the company and we manage the security of goods and insurances. This includes document management, asset management, product management, organizing company events, company benefits and dealing with crisis management. In one word we are “One stop shop”. And in recent years, we have been strengthening measures against antisocial forces. I was in charge of the vice chairman of the Tsukiji District Special Violence Prevention Measures Council and Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department Jurisdiction Special Violence Prevention Measures Union, which is organized by the Metropolitan Police department. My current work is dealing with the new coronavirus in addition to these existing duties.
− How did the remote work start?
Y.S To be honest, we were already preparing for the work style reform before the problem with the new coronavirus began. The Tokyo Olympics were scheduled to be held in 2020, so we were planning to promote telecommute during and also 10 days before and after the Olympics anyway. And then the new coronavirus spread that made us implement remote work immediately. But I think the environment for telecommute was established rather smoothly since we already had the foundation prepared and not build from zero.
− What is the work system you are taking currently (at September time)?
Y.S There are 5 people in the General Affairs department so each person will come to the office once a week and rotating commute. The attendance rate for other department is kept below 30% of the total number of the department.
− So basically, everyone is working remotely. Were people able to work from home starting at the end of February?
Y.S Yes, we quickly implemented Zoom, and later Microsoft Team so we can have online meetings from home.
− We heard that the company provided masks during when there were lack of masks in the market. Did you provide it to all employees?
Y.S We provided 50 masks for each employee. We had our overseas subsidiaries provide us with masks and scrambled while there were no masks in the market. That was really difficult task. It was very popular amongst our employees and we received messages that it really helped them. We really ran around at the beginning.
− How did you start dealing with the new coronavirus?
Y.S When this problem started, we dealt with it as a project and called it WNN (Wavelock New Normal). Initially, we thought there will be many employees who will come to the office so we started taking infection prevention measures from where we can start. We requested our building to abolish hand dryer in the bathrooms, and installed hand sanitizer and panel for preventing droplets. This is to protect the employees who would come to the office and at the end it will also protect the safety of their family and people around them.
Between April and June, we also banned using public transportation for commuting. We provided expense if they are using their car and if they do not have a car, we asked them to come to the office by taxi. I commuted from Saitama by car. It was killing two birds with a stone since I had to purchased acrylic board in my neighborhood and transport it to the office. There were people who took taxi to the office from Chiba and Kanagawa. We asked our employees to do their best to avoid any risk.
At the same time, we used our company housing in Kawaguchi to establish a satellite office. It just happened that there were 3 empty rooms and wanted to utilize it. It is one of the rooms in an old condominium so we changed the wall paper and changed to wooden floor. I helped with the interior renovation myself. The reason we wanted to make satellite offices is that some of the employees said it is difficult to concentrate to work at home since they have small children.
I think the satellite office in Kawaguchi is a safe work environment as each room is used by only one person. We also rented condominiums in Taito-ku and Tsukuba and created satellite offices. We would like to increase this model in the future.
We also installed panels for preventing droplets. This was a battle with time. We wanted to install as soon as possible. Our company makes soft plastic and initially we could not make one using our own product that will stand on its own. We searched for an acrylic board at home improvement store and be-friended the guy and asked him to help us with cutting them. We used a bookend to fix the acrylic board that was cut. And this worked and it stood on its own.
We asked other locations how many they need and we delivered them. This was the hardest job. We cut the cost down quite a bit since we made them ourselves. It is also our general affairs mission to keep the costs down. We were so busy.
− This means you have to deal with everything while only one person is coming to the office due to the rotational commute, right?
Y.S Yes, everyone including myself has to check the stock for the consumable products. We need to replenish sanitizers etc. So, some of our members call me “S construction store” because I am running around doing all this. It just happened that I like making things because of my personality. I am certainly a handy man but I think it is important to show the action rather than just by words.
I am proud to say that we have great members in General Affairs Department. Some of them are proactive, some strong with computer skill and each person is working utilizing their personality. I have a great team I can rely on.
While taking urgent measures against the new coronavirus, we moved forward with building necessary mechanism as well as stepping up miscellaneous tasks. After the state of emergency was lifted, we set up a new guideline “Wavelock New Normal (WNN)” for the daily life for the whole group and started implementing since July 1st.
− What was the hardest thing to do?
Y.S In terms of practical side it was difficult to create the panel for preventing droplets but also to create a guideline. We created WNN collecting information on what should be restricted and what should be released.
− How did you think about the contents of WNN?
Y.S First we divided the items into categories and then decided the operational policy for each of them. Such as; offices, meeting rooms, gathering rooms (head office), business operation and office commute system. For example, to place a partition panel in the office. In the meeting rooms we set a limit on the number of people, which is half the capacity from the past. At the same time, we started to allow people to commute by train since July 1st but suggested to come off peak hours to avoid crowding during the commute.
− While there are so many issues, what did you prioritize when you were dealing with these issues?
Y.S The most important thing was the safety of the employees and their family. So, we prioritized infection prevention measures. Since we are a manufacturing company, if we don’t make things, the survival of the company may be jeopardized, but first and foremost, the safety of the employee is the number 1 priority. This is also the idea from our president. I am truly thankful that our executives think this way. As the General Affairs Department, we have always been thinking about what we can do to keep our employees safe.
− Products to countermeasure new coronavirus were made one after the other within the company. Were you aware of those movements?
Y.S Of course. For example, when we started selling face shield, we reviewed our insurance considering the customers who purchased them. One of our job at the General Affairs is to avoid any risk when selling the products, so we were involved in the product development in the back ground.
− Now looking back, do you have any thought about the features and strengths of Wavelock?
Y.S We as a whole group are creating and selling many effective products to combat new coronavirus such as Face Shield for preventing infection by droplets made by Wavelock Advanced Technology and Clear Safe Splash Shield for safety measures against infectious droplets made by Innovex. We are a plastic manufacturer. Often plastic is seen as a material to pollute the environment. Nevertheless, we are proud that the position of plastic in modern society is an indispensable material for people’s life. We are actively working on measures against environmental pollution, reduction of waste plastics and recycling, but I think we can be a better plastic manufacturer if we can contribute to the conservation of the natural environment.
− What are the concerns that the employees submitted regarding remote work?
Y.S There were many concerns relating to communication. We are now providing cell phone to all employees who needs to work remotely.
− Were there cases related to stress?
Y.S Yes, about lack of communications. It applies to me as well, but people like to work while laughing and seeing other faces. When you are only seeing your family, you miss seeing your colleagues. WEB meetings are effective but the problems are solved faster when you can consult others nearby. I have actually heard voices saying that it is difficult to convey “Horenso (Report, Contact, Consult)”. I am wondering if there is any good idea to solve this. We have introduced a chat system, and trying to see if this will solve some of the problems.
− How do you decide the system for commuting hours?
Y.S We have adopted “flexible time system” for the head office so we can respond flexibly. I myself is commuting from 7:40am this morning. We are asking people to act so they can avoid dense situations.
− It’s been a while since this new way has been implemented, but how do you see the changes?
Y.S I am relieved that all employees have accepted this new way of working. Although it was a little forceful but the environment for telecommute and satellite office has now been established and we are able to demonstrate that we can continue this way of working even after the problem of the new coronavirus is resolved in the future. This is not the end but we need to clear the issues if we want to continue this telecommute system. We want to continue this work style reform.
− Please tell us if you have anything you want to change or implement in the future through the lesson you learned from this crisis management.
Y.S To act flexibly and rapidly in case of an emergency. I really felt the importance of speed at this occasion. I would like to utilize this for the future crisis management.
Furthermore, we have launched “New Work Style Project (NWS)” in September. Not only from the perspective of preventing infection with the new coronavirus, but even after this problem has been resolved, we would like to continue the system such as remote work as a work style reform.
Currently, the trend of digitalization in the world is accelerating. We need to ride this wave and look to the future as the whole group and change the way we do business, the way we work and the way we think.
As the first step of many measures, from October 1st, we are implementing “change of payment method for commuting expense (from monthly pass payment to actual expenses)” and “start providing work from home allowance (lump sum and monthly)” for the employees who are mainly working from home.
In the future, we should consider setting up satellite offices and contracting hourly shared offices and review the way the head office should be. I would like to take further steps toward work style reform.
− Lastly, please tell us if you have any new habits you have started.
Y.S There is no commute because of remote work so I am walking one hour every day. I would like to continue being fit. I am a fan of Hanshin Tigers so it was hard when I could not watch any baseball. But now I look forward for watching the game on TV.
Also, since I have young grandchildren, it was difficult to work from home until the nursery school started. I will continue my best for my grandchildren.