Friday, February 26, 2010

Won't Miss #131 - working long, not smart or hard

We all hear again and again that the Japanese are hard workers, but the reality isn't quite what you'd expect based on the reputation. Anyone who works in a Japanese office for any length of time and learns to really understand what is going on discovers that the Japanese work long, but not necessarily smart (or hard). The emphasis is on looking busy and hanging around the office, not getting work done efficiently. People who do little all day, but stick around until just after the boss goes home have a better reputation in the companies than those who get three times as much actual work done and go home on time. When I worked in a Japanese company, it was a constant frustration for me that I was greatly more productive in the 7 hours I worked than the Japanese were in the 9 or 10 hours they worked, yet they were viewed as better workers than me simply for pointlessly and fruitlessly milling about the office several hours a day.

I won't miss this aspect of Japanese business culture.