A group of people in a room.

Japanese workers are struggling; poor-quality work environments are a big part of the problem

Research Project Name

Japan Workplace Survey 2020

What We Did

The Japanese workplace is underperforming. To identify the factors that matter most to workplace effectiveness and experience, we leveraged Gensler’s Workplace Performance Index (WPI) and Experience Index (EXI) survey tools and conducted a national survey of Japanese workers. Comparing Japan to the many regions we’ve studied, we’ve found that the Japanese workplace is underperforming. In fact, EXI (47) and WPI (54) scores are the lowest we’ve captured of any global region. That means the average worker is directly impacted by the shortcomings of the average Japanese workplace.

Our survey captures the experiences of those in a variety of industries, and interestingly, there is little variation in their reported workplace effectiveness or experience. No one industry performs better on performance and experience than the average scores of Japan’s global peers: U.S., Germany, and the U.K. However, because of Japan’s unique workplace profile, global benchmarks should be only one starting point. Japanese workers are less mobile than other global regions, spending nearly 75% of their time at their primary location. By comparison, U.S. workers reportedly spend 68% of their time at their primary office location. Japanese workers are empowered with the ability to choose where they need to work throughout the day, but they don’t have adequate workplaces to support their needs.

Workplace performance, experience, and innovation are strongly related. Key indicators of experiences at work — workplace effectiveness (WPI), innovation, and workplace experience (EXI) — are strongly related. Workplaces that rank highly on both effectiveness and experience are also the most likely to be ranked highly on innovation. Comparing Japan to global peers, companies have an average innovation score of 2.8, well below that of Germany, the U.S., and the U.K. Consequently, low performance and innovation scores in Japan align with subpar outcomes such as job satisfaction.

Employers must find solutions locally, as workplace behaviors in Japan are relatively unique. Focus work is not viewed to be as critical to day-to-day functions, compared to other global regions. Japan, with the U.K., are the only two global regions that spend more time collaborating than on focus work. Nonetheless, the Japanese workplace has low effectiveness scores across all work modes. Workplaces should be created to better support all types of work.

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Research Team: Sarah Bader, Christine Barber, Mami Fujioka, Kana Machida, Fumi Mangyo, Daniel Omuro / Analytics Team: Justin Chase, Michelle DeCurtis / Editorial Team: Tim Pittman, Kyle Sellers / Design Team: Laura Latham, Minjung Lee / Additional Contributors: Janet Pogue; Amanda Ramos

Year Completed