JR East is currently testing shinkansen cars as designated teleworking spaces on the Tohoku Shinkansen route which runs between Tokyo and northern Japan. Designated office cars are now available on between eight to ten shinkansen trains a day and the trials will continue until February 26th.
The trials are a response to the recent accelerated spread of remote working and if the office cars prove popular, the plan is to remodel cars as work spaces on other shinkansen routes between Tokyo and Kanagawa, Chiba, and Saitama.
Currently, talking on a mobile phone is discouraged within train cars as it disturbs other passengers. However, within the designated office space passengers can freely take work-related calls and full online meetings are also permitted. Any passenger can freely move from their seat in an ordinary car to use the designated office car at no extra cost. And there is also a decided seating plan so that passengers can do their work at a sufficient distance from each other. Sound-masking technology has been installed to give passengers more privacy and remote routers are also freely provided to ensure a more reliable internet connection.
The office car trials have been organized in cooperation with the telecommunications operator KDDI and after the initial proof-of-concept trials are completed the further expansion of the program is likely to go ahead this spring.
Article by Michael Lambe. Image courtesy of JR East. All rights reserved.