By the pool or ferris wheel? Theme park becomes new office for teleworkers

Kim Kyung Hoon

TOKYO (REUTERS) – The coronavirus pandemic has turned one Japanese theme park into a new workplace for teleworkers, with a haunted house for the bargain.

On Thursday, Yomiuriland, an amusement park in Tokyo, launched an “amusement workation” package to include a working booth next to its pool, and a ride on its observation ferris wheel with a portable WiFi router.

“I love working outside. This is a good plan, and it feels great,” said President of an IT solutions firm FLEQ Tatsuki Yamamoto, 47, sitting on a white pool chair with his laptop.

Employees at his company are also working remotely, Yamamoto said.

A third of Japanese firms are re-assessing using offices as 65 per cent of firms allowed or encouraged employees to work from home due to the pandemic, a Reuters poll showed in August.

Yamamoto and his business partner use laptops while they have a meeting on a Ferris wheel. PHOTO: REUTERS

Many workers in Japan, and globally, began telecommuting as the coronavirus spread and governments imposed strict restrictions to contain it.

Several tourists attractions in Japan have been hit by the pandemic, and some amusement parks have explored other ways to lure visitors.

The Yomiuriland theme park sells day passes for JPY1,900 per person on weekdays, and JPY2,000 yen for weekends and holidays, including a workspace rental on the pool side, and a ride on the giant ferris wheel, as well as after-work free golf balls at a driving range inside the park.

About 10 customers including Yamamoto used the park with roller coasters and a haunted house as their alternative office on Thursday.

On the slowly moving ferris wheel, Yamamoto dialled into an online conference call and showed off the height to his co-workers through a camera on his laptop.

However, it was hard to focus in the air, he said.

“I don’t know whether to enjoy the view or do the work.”