Monday, August 13, 2012

first impressions of japanese working culture

I had to work last Saturday. It's supposed to be one of the few Saturdays we have to be at work. There's this thing about having 120 days of "holidays" in the contract, which I think typically applies to the rest of the employees as well.

So all Sundays are statutory "holidays", including Japanese national holidays, and Golden week during spring, Obon week during summer and New Year's week during winter. So if somehow the total sum of that exceeds 120 days, we have to "make up" for it by working some Saturdays.

That makes me miss working in Malaysia, just like how our angmoh's always exclaim we have too much holidays!

I didn't really mind, since I had some work to catch up on, and having half the office away already on their summer break, it was easier to concentrate.

I have a lot more to share on working in a Japanese company, surrounded in Japanese culture and language, on top of having to pick up skills to do what I'm paid to do. It's a multi-dimension learning curve, I tell ya. In a way I'm glad my consulting training and childhood background has helped me to be more adaptable and agile.

This was taken on my first day. My HP laptop, quite small but good enough for me. Light enough if needed for business trips, though the specs are a little lesser than my brand new Sony Vaio! I have to make some noise about the fact that we have to use Lotus Notes.

Ee was surprised I was still upset over this even during my 2nd week here. How can I not be, when most of my working hours I am stuck using it - emails, calendars, meeting invites, booking rooms, clocking in time, etc. I'm more than relieved we have Windows 7, the latest MS Office 2010, but am stuck with a Lotus Notes that looked like it was transported straight from Windows 95.

That's the IT department where I work.. As you can see, we don't have fancy cubicles nor sexy office furniture. It's a humble Japanese company where we make do with what was there from before. Having come from richer client environment where they are generous with ergonomic chairs and IT peripherals to ensure you do not get carpal tunnel syndrome, I remind myself to get something for my health's sake once I get my first salary.

When I first stepped into this office, it reminded me of a school teacher's room where the teachers are huddled together, with files and papers all stacked up. We don't even have chat on our PC's, so there is no way I can "chat" with a colleague. I still don't have a Japanese mobile, and I'm trying to limit the use of my Malaysian mobile. Since I don't really speak the language, I felt really disconnected the first week - no chat, no phone, no talk.

Of course, I have begun to keep my Gmail, Hotmail and Skype online. Later found out I can connect to the office WiFi, so my Malaysian mobile can be used for Whatsapp too. Oh so happy!

The office is on the Port Island, a rather small man-made island I believe. There are quite a lot of offices, factories and warehouses here, also some residential areas. Ikea is just a stop away too. Can't believe Kobe has Ikea too, and so near! Once I get my own place, I'm going to come here to have a look at various possibilities of pimping my crib.

One of the things I didn't expect to do was to clock in, and out. Not just on Lotus Notes, but at the entrance where the guard dutifully greets everyone "Ohayou gozaimasu" every morning, and "Otsukaresamadesu" in the evenings.

This is where they track how many hours you work, and if you supposedly work OT more than 30hrs/month or 360hrs/year, your supervisor will get a notification. Apparently we're not supposed to work overtime, or we're supposed to be paid for the OT work.

For all the grief I have using Lotus Notes and not having a sleek cubicle and ergonomic chairs, I don't mind this at all!

One of the evenings last week on the way back from work. This is the Port Liner train track which connects the Kobe mainland to the Port Island. I like watching out of the windows as I rest my eyes on the view of the sea and the piers, then come back to a view of the mountains in the horizon. It's quite therapeutic, maybe one of these days I'll go on a shuttterbug trip to capture better shots.


Anthony said...

you only work 30hrs/month or 360hrs/year? that is hardly any work at all. Wow!

§nóflèk said...

Anthony : lol sorry for the confusion! i meant OT more than 30 hrs/month or 360 hrs/year hehe.. thanks for pointing it out! :)