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Cherry trees. Cherry trees.

Learning from our customers in Japan

As the COVID-19 crisis evolves, we’re proud to help our customers adapt to remote learning and remote work. From Italy to the Greater China Region, customers in impacted areas are discovering so many new ways to keep work, school, and life moving at this challenging time. And we’re committed to sharing their stories with you.

Today we look to Japan. Since April 7, Japan has been under a state of emergency that’s expected to last until at least May 6. Some spring traditions, like the hugely popular nationwide spring high school baseball tournament, have been canceled. Others, like March’s grand sumo tournament in Osaka, have taken place without spectators. It’s also cherry blossom–viewing season in Japan, when families, friends, and work colleagues traditionally gather in parks to hold blossom viewing parties. This year, the government asked them all to stay home.

The Microsoft Japan team, led by my colleague Yoshihiro Yamasaki, has learned so much from this experience. “Working from home can undoubtedly improve efficiency—by eliminating commutes, for example,” says Yamasaki. At the same time, switching between work and life is tricky, with long hours online leading to overwork. To help, the team reduced average meetings from 60 to 30 minutes and is meeting for virtual coffee breaks to relax and talk about anything other than business.

Here’s how some of Microsoft Japan’s customers are adjusting to this new normal.

Education

On February 27, Japan’s Prime Minister requested that schools close, and it’s likely they will remain that way until early May. Chiba University Faculty of Education, Affiliated Elementary School quickly brought learning online by creating virtual classrooms in Microsoft Teams. Everything from fifth grade cooking class to first grade drawing are now taught online. Students even connect during virtual lunches and homeroom sessions. And according to Mr. Koike, the teacher who moved the school online, remote learning is opening up new opportunities for students who are usually quiet in class to participate more.

As with schools around the world, many Japanese graduation ceremonies have been either cancelled or carried on without guests. Ritsumeikan Primary School in Kyoto had a graduate-only ceremony, but were able to virtually include parents and guardians with live events in Teams. With the technical support of Microsoft Japan, the school streamed the graduation ceremony live, so that families could experience this important moment.

Government

The City of Osaka, home to over 20 million people, used Teams to host an orientation ceremony and training session for hundreds of new government employees at the beginning of April. They recorded training videos using Teams meetings recording, then delivered them to these new team members on Microsoft Stream. City directors and managers in Osaka are also using Teams on mobile to collaborate, collecting information quickly and speeding up critical decision-making.

Meanwhile, the City of Kumamoto on the island of Kyushu, has established a COVID-19 taskforce. Part of the Crisis Management and Disaster Prevention Office, the taskforce uses Teams to meet and connect with city health centers on the forefront of COVID-19 response via Teams, and posts the latest COVID-19 information there so that team members have access to precise information immediately. Kumamoto’s fire department is also working together over Teams.

Commercial

As a Life Science company, Daiichi Sankyo—a global pharmaceutical headquartered in Japan—was committed to doing everything it could to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This conviction helped the company move 8,800 employees to remote work at the outset of the outbreak. Today these employees are using Teams to work closely with external business partners and continue providing patients with much-needed medicine while also ensuring employees stayed safe.

For Suntory, a leading beverage company, Teams was a key aspect of the company-wide work-from-home initiative developed in response to the outbreak. Colleagues are using it to replicate the office environment, keeping the app open to make it easy to communicate and connect as needed. Suntory has also posted articles on the company intranet designed to help employees learn more about Teams and hosts regular virtual gym classes for employees as well.

We are so proud to support these customers as they adapt to remote learning and remote work. From teachers connecting with students in virtual classrooms to task-forces connecting agilely from their mobile phones, they have shown resilience and ingenuity during a truly challenging time.

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