Work Style Innovation, Seeking Rich and Fulfilling Life and Ways of Working

In 2016, we began our efforts in our “Work Style Innovation” project, which was targeted to improve personal happiness as well as corporate strength to maintain the attractiveness of our company.

Director, Managing Executive Officer, Head of Corporate Planning Div.Hiroyuki Hosomi

In charge of the project’s execution, Hiroyuki Hosomi explains, “Although it is important to work efficiently and raise productivity, our intention is that each employee finds comfort in both work and their private time. A sense of ease and prosperity positively influences not just the individual but the company and society as well, which I believe creates a positive cycle.”

The first task was to transform meetings. We set rules that a meeting had to provide some solid results to prevent pointless meetings. "Set a time limit for the meeting and always reach some conclusion. We were also strict about completing the meeting minutes right then and there." We also limit working hours, and the creation and enforcement of e-mail rules. With these three main pillars, we aimed to streamline work tasks and reduce working hours.

From 2018, to further reform operations, we visualized every employee’s annual operations (with the exception of production) aiming at a 20% reduction for business volume, and considered aspects such as the discontinuation, simplification, and automation of each operation. This was done not only to reduce working hours, but to utilize the created time for high-value-added works. Also, we aimed to improve our corporate strength with elimination of human error by automation, and the standardization of personal tasks and so on.

Although we are in the midst of our activities, we have clearly decreased our holiday work and allowed earlier closing hours.

Targeting the acquisition of annual paid leave of over 15 days per person, our “Minimum 15” activities have improved the average acquisition days year by year, reaching over 17 days for fiscal year 2019. In response, “I feel that there is more time for activities such as lessons and hobbies, allowing employees to take days off in a timely manner, according to the lifestyle of each individual. This means a new way of working is spreading.”

One of the reasons for the success of this work style innovation, which can easily become nominal, is that the company is serious about undertaking. I believe that there aren’t too many companies with a top who repeatedly calls out to ‘reconsider the way you work’.

There is also another factor. Morning gatherings and notifications tend to be superficial and fail to sufficiently penetrate. Hence, we discussed the matter individually whenever possible.” Labeled as an “interview marathon”, the work-style innovation office listened to every opinion of the heads of each department carefully and politely and responded to the issues brought up by each individual, ignoring convention and hesitation to repeatedly review and improve operations.

Hosomi shared his expectations for the project: "In the future, I would like to increase relations not only with employees' families but also local communities. Widening one's perspective through activities outside of work serves to heighten interest and concern for society and the local community. Employees and the company, as well as the local community all grow together, this is the ideal situation that KOBELCO Construction Machinery is aiming to achieve."
KOBELCO Construction Machinery will continue to evolve in order to create an even better society.

The Vision of “Work Style Innovation”

Kobelco Construction Machinery Group aims at improving the personal happiness level of our employees and the company’s corporate strength to maintain the attractiveness of our company.
To realize these objectives, we thoroughly promote the work efficiency of each employee and construct an ideal workplace environment.

1. Improving the personal happiness level of employees

  1. (1) Secure the maximum amount of private time that can be efficiently used by each employee.
  2. (2) Provide a healthy space for both mind and body by creating a workplace environment where each employee can comfortably and satisfyingly conduct their operation.

2. Improving corporate strength

  1. (1) Improve the quality of work, spare much time for creative and high-value-added operations.
  2. (2) Establish a flexible system and culture to a diversifying way of work to raise the strength of the company.

“Work Style Innovation” Efforts

Limit on Total Working Hours
Overtime past 19:00 and working on weekends/holidays is prohibited in principle. Employees are recommended to use flex time to shift the work to the morning hours. All employees display a "Going home announcement card" on their desks that indicates the time one is going home to surrounding personnel so that work can be easily coordinated.
KOBELCO-Style Meetings
A meeting is a place to "discuss" and reach a "conclusion". The length of meetings must be set and they must be held with the bare minimum of attendees. Distribution of documents and other materials must be completed before the meeting. Meeting minutes must be created during the meeting and distributed once it ends (including confirmation of conclusion).
KOBELCO-Style E-mail
Guidelines have been created that include, "Provide a title that readily indicates the content of the mail," "Do not add an excess amount of CC recipients," and "Start with the conclusion and concisely summarize the important points." Innovations have been made so that dealing with e-mail does not require so much time.
Interview Marathon
Dividing all departments into 104 groups, each employee is provided an opportunity to discuss the contents of their work and also bring up any issues. These were used as references to improve operations and remove any hindrances to their work. This was done not in pursuit of improving the result of departmental averages, but by supporting each employee to ensure that no individual is left behind.
Operations Reform Project
Targeting a 20% reduction for business volume, we visualized every employee’s annual operations (with the exception of production), and considered aspects such as the discontinuation, simplification, and automation of each operation. This was done not only to reduce working hours, but to improve the company’s corporate strength.
Innovative Person Award
Presented in recognition of the actions and results of operational reforms. We aim at penetrating the consciousness for operational reform and creating results that are beneficial to operational efficiency and productivity improvement, also have positively shared(expanded) those actions throughout the company.
Gradually introduced from January 2020, the objective is to improve productivity and enhance personal time by creating a work-style that is not restricted by location. To ensure that communication remains strong, we also enhanced our website communication tool.
Leaving Time Declaration Card
This is a card that you hold up to announce your office-leaving time to the people around you. This card was introduced from 2017 for the purpose of promoting operational efficiency by deepening time consciousness, strengthening the awareness of employee teamwork and revitalizing communication.
Casual Day
In order to create an environment for flexible thinking, we made it possible for employees to come to the office in casual office wear on Casual Day, which is Wednesday of every week.

KOBELCO CONSTRUCTION MACHINERY Manager, Corporate Planning Gr., Corporate Planning & Administration Dept.,
Corporate Planning Div.,

Increasing Time Spent with Family Makes Everyday Fulfilling

Measures such as a system for requesting overtime beforehand have greatly increased time awareness. Everyone, including myself, has been innovative with the ways in which we use our time in a manner that is efficient for the entire workplace. We are going home earlier and spending more enjoyable time with my family. My wife is also quite happy that I have more time to help around the house. I have changed into an 'early to bed, early to rise' person, and I feel that there are now many more opportunities to refresh ourselves mentally and physically.

KOBELCO CONSTRUCTION MACHINERY Manager, Compliance Planning & Administration Group., Legal & Internal Audit Dept.,Y.Y

I Want to Use Time so Skillfully that People Doubt I Am an Employee

The easy use of flex time and similar measures have made for flexible work styles. I also feel that meetings have become more practical and they deal with more substantial important topics. I use my increased free time for my hobbies and improving my skills, such as jogging, going to baseball games, and obtaining various qualifications. People might be jealous, but my next goal is, when I leave work on time everyday, they ask me "Are you really working?" (Laughs).