A decrease in the working population is just around the corner with the advent of an aging society with a low birth rate. In response, the Japanese government is working to develop a bill on work style innovation to maintain and improve productivity, while Fujitsu has aggressively promoted AI and ICT. In this article, we will introduce Fujitsu's in-house practices and key points for successful work style innovation from various perspectives for the era when people live to age 100.
[Fujitsu Forum 2018 Conference Report]
Basic Policy on Work Style Innovation for the Era When Everyone Lives to Age 100
This conference, which was moderated by Mr. Shunsuke Takahashi of Keio University, started with a presentation by Mr. Sadanori Ito, Director of Human Resources Policy at METI, which was followed by presentations from Fujitsu's Hiroshi Hayashi and Masayoshi Matsumoto. Afterwards, Mr. Takahashi led a discussion on each panelist's area of specialty.
The Coming of an Era When AI Use Affects How People Work and Learn
First, Mr. Sadanori Ito of METI made a presentation under the theme of "Work Style Innovation and Human Resource Investment in the Era of AI and the Era of 100-year Lives."
Japan now faces two large waves of structural changes: "changes in population dynamics" brought about by the decrease in population and the advent of the 100-year-life era and the "fourth industrial revolution" as represented by AI.
The real topic of discussion is not whether AI will take jobs away from humans, but rather the distinction between "humans who can use AI versus humans who cannot." The government's role is to build a social system that develops people who can demonstrate their value using AI through education and human resource development.
Alleviation of long working hours has become a theme of focus in work style innovation; however, the essential issue is to strike a balance between "companies' goal to increase productivity" and "workers' goal to pursue the joy of engagement and work." For this, we must build a personnel evaluation system based on achievements and skills, not the number of working hours, and we must realize a variety of work styles that are not bound by time or place. Also, we must build a social system that allows "individuals to learn the fundamental skills required in the 100-year-life era at any age as members of society."
For the past 30 years from Japan's Showa to Heisei periods, work styles have changed from the "Sugoroku" style in which workers aim to achieve their goals by following a single track to the "Pokémon GO" style in which workers increase their skills and personal connections by making full use of GPS. Meanwhile, human resources are becoming increasingly important for companies as a source of competitive advantage, and the recovery speed of human resource investment is accelerating. With the diversification of workplaces, including side businesses and telework, allocation of tasks among AI, full-time employees, and outsourced providers has become important.
The then world chess champion who was defeated by a supercomputer in 1997 demonstrated in later years that humans can defeat AI by making full use of AI. In management/HR as well, by adding the use of AI technology to conventional elements, such as intuition, experience, and courage, a driving force can be generated for corporate and employee growth.
Reforming the Organizational Climate in the Area of Personnel Policy
Next, Hiroshi Hayashi, Corporate Executive Officer, EVP, Fujitsu Limited, made a presentation entitled "Fujitsu's Work Style Innovation Initiative Toward Achieving an Attractive Company Where Diverse Personnel Can Play Important Roles."
In work style innovation, the basic personnel policy is to realize high productivity by "work styles that do not rely on long working hours" and "diverse, flexible work styles." Achievements for the year 2017 include introduction of telework at nearly all workplaces and reduction of unnecessary overtime hours by introducing an overtime work application system called "ID Link Manager." Though progress varies by business unit, the Sales Department in particular has been making cross-departmental efforts to achieve innovation. Among these efforts, organizations where work style innovation has progressed under strong leadership in the workplace have reduced paper use by 44%, printing costs by 33%, and meeting preparation times by 50% while increasing customer service hours by 30%.
As a whole, environment development, including that of systems, has progressed, and the "form" of work styles has gradually changed. Meanwhile, the future challenge is to change the "quality" of work styles, including the sense of value and behavior patterns in work. To address this, we are engaged in the following three key initiatives: (1) developing "work visualization" by further use of IT; (2) strengthening mid-level management skills; and (3) initiatives involving customers. The next step is "organizational development" in the field of personnel affairs--in other words, organizational climate reform. To create new work styles that involve the workplace and realize a workplace environment where employees can play active roles, it is important to change their awareness that "long working hours = working hard."
Use of ICT to Improve Productivity and Ensure Sound Management
Next, Masayoshi Matsumoto, EVP, CIO, Fujitsu Limited, made a presentation entitled "Fujitsu's Work Style Innovation Initiatives - ICT In-house Practices."
Fujitsu works to use ICT in work style innovation from two perspectives: "to improve employee productivity" and "to ensure sound management."
To improve employee productivity, Fujitsu's efforts are centered on the following three points.
- (1) Introduction of communication tools
- We have introduced tools for mutual communication among more than 160,000 Group employees worldwide, reducing business travel expenses by 20% through real-time information sharing, Office 365, and Box.
- (2) Promotion of telework
- Our in-house practices examined the effects of telework and confirmed results from questionnaires after five months, such as a free addressing (hot desking) usage rate of 87% and telework rate of 61%.
- (3) Starting a project using AI
- We started a project named the "AI-chaku Project" in 2016. "Personal Navigator," an AI digital secretary developed through collaboration between Fujitsu and Microsoft, analyzes emails and sets up meetings. We launched a mobile version in 2018.
To ensure sound management as a responsibility of the company, Fujitsu's efforts are centered on the following two points.
- (1) Prevention of long working hours
- We introduced a system that enables employees to clock in from anywhere by PC or smartphone as well as "ID Link Manager," which visualizes the true number of working hours and issues warnings. Alarms have been issued to managers using the system.
- (2) Health management using AI
- This initiative aims to improve productivity by protecting the health (in particular, the mental health) of employees whose faces cannot be seen using Fujitsu's AI Zinrai. To facilitate early detection of signs of employee health concerns, we analyzed and monitored work patterns that resulted in health concerns by making full use of deep learning; we then established a cloud-based collaboration system with industrial counselors. During an in-house trial in 2017, we confirmed some effects regarding health concern forecasting and employee cognitive care performed by industrial counselors.
Going forward, Fujitsu will continue to actively promote "Work Style Innovation Initiatives Using ICT."