In Japan, speaking on the phone and conducting meetings on trains are
frowned upon. With teleworking during the pandemic proving itself an
important aspect of ensuring business continuity, Japan’s bullet trains
have adapted to address commuters who need to work remotely.
country’s East Japan Railway Company (JR East) has started offering
“office cars” onboard some shinkansen (bullet trains) that connect the
capital Tokyo and the country's northern and central parts.
These designated carriages allow passengers to work onboard, talk on
the phone, and participate in online meetings from their seats –
activities that are discouraged on the rest of the train. Other
considerations provided to support telework include small dividers that
add privacy to the seat tables, and rental of "smart glasses" that
project laptop content before the eyes.
"We want to support a new way of working that is not bound by time and place," said a JR East official.
More remote workspaces onboard the shinkansen are being trialled by
Japan’s other railway operators, including Central Japan Railway Co and
West Japan Railway Co., on lines running through the major Japanese
cities of Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka and Fukuoka.
With the launch of these special carriages, available on weekdays
only, train operators are also seeking to revive business trip demands
that have slumped due to the Covid-19 pandemic.