Work-Life-Balance at a Japanese Startup

Three Japanese millennial-aged women working at a Tokyo-headquartered startup share their approach to finding balance in their working lives.




In a country with a work culture known for long hours and rigid conformity, Xtra, Inc. stands out. By offering its employees flexibility and respecting their individuality, the company has been able to recruit top candidates that would have otherwise been hired by big-name enterprises.


Xtra is a Tokyo-based startup best known as the operator of Conyac, a website where companies can hire freelancers for a wide variety of tasks and projects. Below, we interview three millennial-aged women working at Xtra to learn about the work they do and their work-life balance.

What kind of work do you do?


Mami: Our team manages outsourcing projects on behalf of enterprise clients. We usually start a client relationship by responding to an inquiry via email to give them a time and cost estimate. When I’m juggling multiple projects simultaneously, it feels like playing a game of Tetris. It’s so rewarding. I imagine each project’s scheduling, how we’ll source freelancers to do the work, and the best approach to ensure everything runs smoothly.


K: Our team serves as a concierge for enterprise clients. This means that we manage projects on their behalf. Using the Conyac platform, we hire and manage remote freelancers for various projects. We have freelancers from around the world, and our clients often need their language skills and local knowledge. I’m always impressed with how thoughtful and hardworking our freelancers are.


M: Recently, in addition to our regular work, we have been analyzing our processes to improve productivity and service quality. Working to improve our work is fun and makes it fun to come to the office each day. If we notice something, it might give us an idea or be something we can share with the rest of the company.



What kind of hours do you work?


Mami: We have a flextime system. As long as we are present during the core hours and work the requisite total hours, we can choose our start and finish times. I find it easier to concentrate if I come to the office earlier, so I usually arrive by 9 AM. Since I can choose my finishing time, if I have plans, I’ll leave the office early.


K: I tend to commute to the office later in the morning to avoid crowded trains.


M: During the summer, I come to the office around 8 AM to avoid the heat. But, I’m a morning person, so I will probably continue starting early even once summer is over.



What are your lunch breaks like?


Mami: The company doesn’t have a set break time, so we can choose to go out when the shops and restaurants are less crowded. I tend to take my breaks from 1 PM because it’s roughly the half-point in my workday. I tend to avoid going outside during summer because it’s so hot but will start again in the fall because there are many restaurants in our area that I want to try.


K: I usually spend my break on the sofa in our office’s lounge area. I also like to take a nap after eating lunch. I like that sofa and find myself sitting on it while I work on it at other times during the day.


M: I find going outside to get lunch a hassle, so always prepare and bring my own. I also like the sofa, and so I usually have lunch there.



What do you do on your days off?


Mami: My hobbies are Latin dance and karaoke. If I have free time on the weekends, I watch Netflix at home. When possible, I line-up my paid holidays with public holidays and go traveling. I grab the chance whenever I can. When my schedule allows it, I’d like to visit South America and Europe.


M: Rather than go traveling or go out, I’m the type who prefers to spend days off at home relaxing. I love Pokemon and have a lot of Pokemon stuffed toys around my room. The other day, I brought a Pikachu one to the office!


K: I love horses. On holidays, I often go see horses and spend time with friends. I’m also a K-pop fan and enjoy taking trips to see concerts in Korea.




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