Japanese employees work so much that drones will soon intervene


A quarter of Japanese companies have workers clocking more than 80 hours of overtime a month, a statistic that contributes to the increasing alarm around “karoshi,” or “death by overwork,” in the country. Overwork-related compensation claims from dead workers’ families have hit a record high, and a woman’s death after 159 hours of overtime a month made global news in October.

Taisei, a Japanese office security and cleaning firm, is reportedly planning to test out a solution to force overworked employees to go home—by flying drones through offices after hours and having them blare music (specifically, the Scottish tune “Auld Lang Syne”) to anyone who lingers.

Resorting to drones to usher employees out of the office is, as the BBC points out, a somewhat silly attempt to tackle a problem with much deeper roots: the immense pressure that many Japanese employees feel to perform at an untenable level in the workplace. Companies in Japan have a history of fostering intense, tournament-style competition among employees, and it has long been frowned upon to leave the office before one’s boss or colleagues.