Special Feature 2:

Supporting a Work–Life Balance

Even if a company has a system in place to create good working conditions, we cannot achieve real work–life balance without a workplace environment comprised of supportive colleagues that understand the system.

We spoke with two men from the same workplace who took childcare leave as well as their supervisor.

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Taking childcare leave together with my wife really gave us a chance to become a family

Workstyle Changes Born from Childcare Leave

My work requires expertise, and I feel motivated when my colleagues rely on me. However, because of this, I was honestly worried that I wouldn’t be able to take childcare leave, even if only briefly. But I felt strongly that I wanted to spend as much time as possible as a couple taking care of our child, so I made the necessary preparations at work in order to be able to take childcare leave. Thanks to the efforts of everyone at work, everything went smoothly while I was on leave, and for this I am very grateful.

When I was training others how to do my work before I took leave, I was surprised by the amount of work that should be standardized so that it could be done by anyone, as well as knowledge that should be shared. Before we even realize it, certain tasks become the responsibilities of only designated individuals. I believe that many people don’t think that they can take childcare leave because they feel that they are the only person who can do their work.

Taking childcare leave gave me a chance to reevaluate my own work process and strengthen my ties with my colleagues. These were unexpected added bonuses.

How Time Was Spent During Childcare Leave

In the morning, my wife and I would carry our son and go for a walk, or we’d go shopping as a family. When our son turned one, we took a long-distance trip. We didn’t do anything out of the ordinary, but this gave us an opportunity to really become a family.

Before I took childcare leave, my wife would often tell me about the mischief my son got into, and hearing her talk about this with such pleasure made me feel a little left out. For that reason, being able to take childcare leave and witness a different side of my son was really fun for me.

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Current Thoughts on the Childcare Leave Program

This was a really valuable experience for me, but I do have some regrets. After my childcare leave, I looked into the program again and gained a lot of information that I didn’t have before. For example, the company has Papa-Mama Childcare Plus*, a special program for families in which both parents work. I think that if I had known about this or some other things earlier, I would have taken childcare leave in a different way.

Naturally, we the employees need to take an interest in and then take advantage of the programs available, but I think that the company should do more to spread the word about these great programs.

*Papa-Mama Childcare Plus: This is a special program for childcare leave that can be used by families in which both parents work so that they can extend their childcare leave if they both take leave.

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Maintaining work–life balance even after childcare leave through the flextime system

The Catalyst for Taking Childcare Leave

Many women in my workplace have taken leave before and after having children and have used the childcare leave program, and I knew that I really wanted to take leave as well. I had a strong desire to be with my newborn daughter as much as possible, so I left my work in the hands of my trustworthy colleagues and used the childcare leave program right after my wife gave birth.

The Positives of Childcare Leave

In addition to taking care of a baby, I gained an understanding of how difficult the daily housework is for my wife, and we had ample time to really talk about our future, so I’m very glad I took childcare leave. Also, because I was able to be with her from the time she was born, my daughter really bonded with me. You don’t need to do anything special with your child during childcare leave—just spending more time together is the most important thing.

About the Flextime System

In addition to the childcare leave program that I used, I’m also really impressed with the flextime system that the company implemented. Our company’s flextime system doesn’t have any core time, so I can easily adjust my work hours based on how my daughter or wife is feeling or their schedules. I’m really grateful for this because my daughter might wake up with a fever in the morning—you never know what will happen when it comes to children.

Being able to adjust my work hours at my own discretion allows me to spend more time with my family, which really raises my motivation. At the same time, I feel a new sense of responsibility to work hard at the “work” part of the equation so that I can prioritize “life.” I think much more about how to efficiently carry out my work.

I feel that the flextime system plays a big role in my ability to prioritize both work and family and lead a balanced life. My routine now involves playing with my daughter before going to work, and this enables me to power through my work day with a smile.

Thoughts from the supervisor of the two men who took childcare leave

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Yumi Tsunakawa Manager, Development
Administration Section,
Model LPL Department

Honestly, I was surprised when I received requests for childcare leave from two men in the office in the same period of time. But at our company, where it is entirely normal for women to take childcare leave, it is not unusual for anyone to go out on leave. I have even used it myself. While these two were out, our sense of working together to support each other reached new heights, and it was an especially nice surprise to see young employees take the lead in driving this effort.

There are times when everyone, regardless of gender, must prioritize the “life” part of a work–life balance. If we have a workplace environment in which we all support each other during these times, I think it will become completely normal for men to take childcare leave.

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