Alumni Voice


“The restricted environment to cultivate the abilities”

Satsuki Kobayashi

Advisory service

Through this essay, I would like to examine the way in which my workstyle changed due to COVID-19 and how I strive for making use of these challenges for creating a safe and vigorous workplace. For that purpose, I would like to describe the hardships I have experienced in growing as a new employee under new normal, the mindsets and actions to overcome them. Then, I would like to explain the state of society I expect after COVID-19.

To begin with, let me explain my current situation. I came back to Japan last summer after a 1-year exchange program in the United States, and worked as a contract employee for half a year, then started working completely remotely at a consulting firm in Tokyo last April. That means I have experience of working as a freshman both online and offline. Compared to the traditional working style, I found three major difficulties in remote work; fostering trusting relationships, loss of the opportunity to learn how to do a job by observation on site, and the psychological hurdle to ask for help. 

The first and most challenging problem for me is cultivating solid relationships with those who I have never met in person. Most of the time, we communicate through text or video call without seeing each other’s face. We are deprived of chances to meet team members and clients in reality and that makes it hard for us to grasp their personality and for deepening relationships. Besides, video calls are arranged only when it is necessary for moving projects forward and it is not intended for casual communication. New recruits who work entirely remotely are required to accomplish their task in such an uneasy environment.

The second thing that the pandemic has taken out from us is the chance to learn from observing how other people work. For example, in my former job, I naturally learned how to communicate with the clients by watching my boss talking on the phone in front of me. I used to catch project-related conversations between team leaders and get a better understanding of work and the way they think.

Thirdly, I would like to point out the psychological barrier we face when we want to ask for help. Due to the obstacles I noted above, new graduates like me have tons of questions to ask for making up for the lost learning opportunities which were supposed to be given at the office. However, asking for support is not as easy as it used to be. Since we cannot see how busy the team members are, we cannot help getting nervous worrying what if we interrupt and annoy them. I have often heard my fellows say that “I tend to miss asking for help because I am not sure when the right timing is”. This is an example of the situation where we are unable to observe the people around us makes even daily communication challenging.

Looking back, I would take the benefits from being at the office for granted. To put it the other way round, the situation encouraged me to be more proactive to learn and grow. I feel that the more passive learning decreases, the more I get proactive at work. For instance, since I cannot frequently ask my bosses for questions, I consider what I should do next and how to do it by myself without detailed directions. Since I do not have the chance to meet new people at the office, I got more active in forming new relationships than I used to be. I have participated in as many online gatherings the firm offers as possible. Currently, I participate in two self-study communities across the firm every week and other countless discussion groups. We all appreciate we met beyond departments, because our encounter would have never happened if online social activities were not as vigorous as it is today. Also, if I look on the bright side, I believe we can even improve the thoughtful attitude through communicating online. That is because, when we cannot see them in person, we are most encouraged to imagine the situations where others might be in and what they feel about it. Although such consideration must be crucial for a better work place, I have seen that we keep making inaccurate and indiscreet assumptions formed by superficial observation when we see each other face to face.

Thus, as I examined, there are some essential abilities we should rather strengthen by taking advantage of a brand-new work environment which is created by the spread of COVID-19. Moreover, I believe that these mindsets I discovered through the last 8 months are valuable regardless of when and where we work.          Lastly, even though this essay is devoted to representing the unexpected situation where new graduates are, I cannot miss to point out the fact that a significant number of young people are deprived of their jobs because of COVID-19. According to the report by IMF, “17 percent of previously employed people between the ages of 18 and 29 stopped working after the pandemic hit, and 42 percent reported a drop in income” in the world (The pandemic is accelerating a shift toward more informal and precarious work, IMF). I firmly insist that it is a matter of everyone as it could happen to anyone at any time. Although I have just embarked on my first career as a working professional and am struggling to adapt to the world with COVID-19, I am determined to do what I can to support those who are unevenly troubled. To achieve this, I will be taking part in the projects in my company to facilitate the society which respects diversity and inclusion by empowering people from overseas in Japan. The change I expect the world after the COVID-19 is the same as I hoped before the pandemic; the society where all of us can be true to our aspirations, and where we are encouraged to begin our life again.








最後に、このエッセイでは新卒者が予期せぬ状況でどう立ち回っているか、ということをご紹介してきました。しかし、COVID-19が原因でかなりの数の若者が仕事を奪われているという事実を指摘しないわけにはいきません。国際通貨基金(IMF)の報告書によると、世界では「18歳から29歳までの仕事をしていた人の17%がパンデミックの影響で働くことをやめ、42%が収入の減少を報告した」(パンデミックはよりインフォーマルで不安定な仕事への転換を加速させている:世界通貨基金(IMF)) とのことです。このことは、誰にでも、いつでも起こりうることなので、皆にとって非常に重要なことだと強く主張します。私は、社会人としての第一歩を踏み出したばかりで、COVID-19と共存する世界に適応するのに苦労しています。しかし、不公平な扱いを受けて苦しんでいる人たちをサポートするために、自分にできることをやっていきたいと思っています。 そのためにも、日本に住んでいる海外から来ている人たちを力づけることで、多様性と包括性を遵守する社会を促進するための社内プロジェクトに参加します。私がCOVID-19後の世界に期待する変化は、パンデミック前に期待していたものと同じです。それは、私たち全員が自分の志に忠実になれる社会、そして何度でも人生のやり直しや再スタートを切ることができるような社会です。

“The pandemic is accelerating a shift toward more informal and precarious work”, IMF,  retrieved in December 2020, from

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