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Japanese firms creating drone to boot workers after shift

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Japanese firms creating drone to boot workers after shift


Dec. 8 (UPI) — A group of Japanese companies are trying to fight the country’s rigorous work culture by creating a drone that tells workers to go home on time after their shifts, instead of accruing overtime.

Tokyo-based drone maker Blue Innovation is developing the device with help from telecommunications firm NTT East and office maintenance company Taisei, The Japan Times reported.

The drone will encourage workers to leave by playing Auld Lang Syne, the traditional Scottish song many Japanese businesses play at closing time, BBC reported.

Aside from encouraging workers to leave the office, the drone can also shoot video. The companies hope the drone will cut down the number of security guards needed at night.

Experts at Japanese universities said they are skeptical.

“It’s a pretty silly thing and companies are doing this just because they have to be seen to be doing something on the problem,” said Seijiro Takeshita, management and information professor at the University of Shizuoka.

Takeshita said he thinks the drones could be beneficial at “creating awareness” of the problems facing overworked employees in Japan.

This year, a 23-year-old worker killed himself after working more than 190 hours of overtime in February. In December 2015, a 24-year-old employee at an advertising company killed herself after accruing 105 hours of overtime. Those types of incidents are known in Japan as “karoshi,” or death from overwork.

Scott North, a professor of sociology at Osaka University, said he thinks Japanese workers will likely take work home with them if the new drones kick them out of their office space.

“To cut overtime hours, it is necessary to reduce workloads, either by reducing the time-wasting tasks and tournament-style competitions for which Japanese workplaces are notorious, or by hiring more workers,” North said.

The companies will charge about $4,400 monthly for the drone, which is expected for a test run in April.

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