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Special Feature

Supporting the “New Normal”with ICT Solutions

NTT Communications’Response to COVID-19

Supporting the “New Normal”with ICT Solutions

The world remains in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic with no end in sight. Since the threat emerged in Japan, NTT Communications has been re-sponding to resolve the ongoing social challenge as a leading ICT company.
We have been exploring our course of action with our eyes firmly fixed on the transition to the “new normal.” In this feature, we focus on NTT Commu-nications’ initiatives and future outlook.

The Work Style Reform Triad that Led to Our Successful Shift to Teleworking

To prevent the spread of Covid-19, NTT Communications announced a Company-wide policy recommending that employees in principle work from home, starting on February 17, 2020.
Under the strategy of not allowing a single member of the workplace to be infected, nearly 80% of our employees, excluding staff providing maintenance for telecommunications services, switched to teleworking almost at once. The transition went extremely smoothly as a result of our longstanding work style reform efforts. NTT Communications had been gradually diversifying its work system since 2002. We have been steadfastly promoting work style reform based on a “triad” approach of developing the environment and tools by taking full advantage of ICT, introducing policies and rules that enable diverse work styles, and cultivating awareness and culture through both a top-down and bottom-up effort. From October 2020, we abolished the “twice a week, 8 times a month” limit on working from home as well as the core time zone for the flextime system.

The Work Style Reform Triad that Led to Our Successful Shift to Teleworking

Challenges Arising from the Emergency

In 2018, we equipped all employees with secured PCs that enable them to work safely and comfortably. Standardizing the use of Office 365’s Microsoft Teams and Exchange Online made it possible to execute operations as efficiently as during ordinary times before the pandemic. Moreover, 6,350 employees had taken part in the Telework Days 2019 campaign spearheaded by the Japanese government ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. This allowed us to identify the issues and key aspects of our internal systems, eliminating the need for any special measures upon our shift to teleworking apart from expanding network bandwidth.
That is not to say there were no problems or concerns. In addition to labor management issues related to personnel evaluation and employee health management, other issues have also emerged that led us to change business practices, including procedures for accepting physical mail and signatures requiring personalized seals as well as accounting rules for communication and commuting expenses. We also needed to allow temporary employees to work from home in the same way as full-time staff, an issue that became apparent because of the urgent impact of COVID-19. As of August 2020, NTT Communications is placing top priority on employee safety by maintaining teleworking as the basic rule while continuously exploring various strategies for resolving the above-mentioned issues.

テレワーク実施状況

Supporting Society as a Provider of ICT Infrastructure

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, NTT Communications has sought to maintain lifelines and business continuity in everyday life to fulfill its responsibility as a designated public institution.
Under these circumstances, many companies began to introduce and utilize teleworking, and school closures became the norm, leading to a dramatic surge in Internet traffic that commanded significant attention. Since the increase was particularly conspicuous during daytime hours on weekdays, we sought to alleviate concern by visualizing traffic patterns and publicly releasing the information online.
Another notable phenomenon that accompanied the rise in Internet use during the COVID-19 pandemic was the increase in inquiries received by our call centers. NTT Communications had been encouraging customers seeking guidance on using the Internet to access the“CAVA” contact center provided by teleworkers, which unexpectedly contributed to alleviating congestion related to the centers.
In this way, NTT Communications has been responding to the COVID-19 pandemic by enhancing the stability of its services to fulfill its primary responsibility as a communications carrier while also pursuing unique activities that utilize its core business to resolve social issues. One major example is the initiative we launched on February 28 to address school closures caused by COVID-19, in which we offered affiliated contents of the “Manabi Pocket” cloud-based educational platform free of charge. While this initiative for maintaining learning opportunities was initially scheduled to end on May 31, 2020, it was extended until the end of June with the cooperation of affiliated content suppliers. Applications exceeded 400,000 IDs, and we contributed to the education of students in elementary, junior high, and high schools and special needs schools across Japan. We intend to actively support society by deploying our resources as the need arises.

Social Contribution Activities Related to the Covid-19 Pandemic

Company

Target

Details

Period

NTT Communications

NTT Communications

Customers seeking advice,
customers who subscribe

Free use of “Manabi Pocket” contents provided by affiliated suppliers Feb. 28 to
Jun. 30

NTT Communications

All corporate and individual
customers who subscribe

Extend payment date for services provided by Group companies Feb. 28 to
Jul. 31

NTT Communications

OCN Mobile users at or
under 25 years of age

Free use of 10 GB of data transmission volume Apr. 9 to
Jun. 30

NTT Bizlink

NTT Bizlink

Staff at universities, research institutions,
and medical institutions in Japan

Secure remote video conference service Apr. 24 to
Jul. 31

NTT Bizlink

Customers seeking advice,
customers who subscribe

  • ・Consultation desk for constructing teleworking and remote work environments
  • ・Free use of “SMART” cloud-based teleconferencing service
Feb. 26 to
Jul. 31

Sharing our Learnings from COVID-19 with Society

In what is being described as the “new normal,” the expectations and responsibilities bestowed upon NTT Communications’ ICT-based services and solutions are likely to increase. As new work styles premised on teleworking gain widespread support, new challenges such as the accompanying rise in Internet traffic and cyberattacks have emerged. The COVID-19 pandemic has unexpectedly provided us with valuable experience. We will draw on this to continue creating and improving our services to offer benefits to society and take the lead in creating a remote native society.

VOICE

Hiromasa Kobayashi

Hiromasa Kobayashi
Manager, Human Resources

Promoting Teleworking for Diverse Customers

Since NTT Communications had been keen to embrace work style reforms, it experienced little confusion once teleworking began Company-wide. Many employees reported that working from home led to greater efficiency or made it easier to concentrate, thus reaffirming the merits. Meanwhile, aspects that are incompatible with today’s corporate system and not easy to deal with have also come to light.
The effects of teleworking and the challenges faced in promoting this work style differ according to a company’s size and industry. However, it has been pointed out that companies failing to offer diverse work styles will find it difficult to secure talented personnel and may see their competitiveness decline. When the pandemic comes to an end in the near future, we will make use of our latest expertise and experience to support customers facing various circumstances.

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