This company prohibits smoking for people working from home
It is true that smoking is a bad habit for health but, as long as it is legal, it is not altogether clear that a company can ban nicotine for its employees. Yet, that's exactly what a Japanese company has begun to do. It states that those who telework, can not smoke in their own home.
According to the Financial Times, Nomura Holding wants to eradicate smoking among its workers and has developed a plan that includes closing the smoking rooms in its offices and also banning the habit for those who work from home.
The question is: how will Nomura ensure that his employees do not smoke at home while they are working?
It won't. The company admits that their ban is no more than an honour system. The company's main philosophy is that there should be no differences between those who go to the office and those who work at home.
Employees at the office actually face the toughest situation. For lack of smoking rooms, they will have to go outside. However, in cities like Tokyo there are serious restrictions on smoking on the sidewalks. So perhaps the best thing is to give up the toxic habit.
In addition, the Financial Times reports, it will longer be allowed to take a short (say, 10-minute) break for smoking. Instead, the breaks will have to be... 45 minutes! Time that, of course, the employee will have to make up.
And why 45 minutes? It is estimated that this is the amount of time it takes for the worker to be able to return from their break without brining smoke or bad odours with them into the office.
In many companies, smoking breaks have been controversial. Colleagues who do not smoke may see it as unfair, extra free time for the smokers thanks to their addiction.
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On the other hand, some Nimura employees have told the Financial Times that they consider the ban on smoking at home to be "intrusive."
Japan has a large smoking population: an estimated 30 million people. It's controversial for a company to want to interfere with that habit.
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As in many other countries, Japan has drastically decreased the number of smokers since the 1990s. Restaurants, arcades and public areas, including some sidewalks in big cities, are often smoke-free. Still, Japan continues to be a heavy consumer.
The restriction imposed by Nomura comes at a time that another big issue of health and personal freedom is dominating workspaces around the world: that of vaccination against COVID-19. Can a company require its employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19 to protect the collective health of its work force?
According to the Financial Times, Nomura wants to reduce the percentage of employees who smoke. They currently represent 20% of the workforce. The company aspires to 12% by 2025.
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Other Japanese companies have also taken anti-smoking measures, but none of them has yet gone as far as to prohibit smoking in the home.
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Whatever happens with this particular case, the smoking room is disappearing from Japanese companies. That in itself is a far-reaching change for the modern work floor.
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