June 11, 2020

New Rakuten Group Guidelines and Initiatives in Response to COVID-19

Tokyo, June 11, 2020 - Rakuten, Inc. today announced updates on the corporate guidelines and initiatives being implemented by Rakuten Group companies, both in Japan and around the world, in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic.

New guidelines for Rakuten Group companies
While the state of emergency declared by the government of Japan has been lifted nationwide and many countries around the world are also cautiously beginning to ease restrictions put in place to slow the spread of the global pandemic, the effects of COVID-19 continue to have a lasting impact on society. In order to ensure the safety of all Rakuten employees, partners and customers, as well as their families and communities, the company has announced three new corporate guidelines designed to safeguard against the spread of infection, proactively utilize IT resources to increase productivity, and provide new and improved Rakuten services aimed at addressing changing social needs.

These guidelines will be rolled out across all Rakuten Group companies in Japan. The Rakuten Group companies in the Americas, EMEA and APAC regions also continue to adapt and improve procedures in the workplace to combat the spread of COVID-19, in line with Group guidelines and tailored for the local regulatory environment and evolving pandemic conditions. Rakuten will continue to adapt and improve its corporate structures and mechanisms to respond with agility to social changes brought about by the global pandemic, and strive to provide services that improve the lives of its customers.

1. Rakuten will manage each of its locations in accordance with the newly formulated guidelines regarding criteria for use and measures against the spread of COVID-19, as all employees continue to work from home as a general rule.
2. Rakuten will continue to promote the ability of employees to work from home through the proactive use of IT resources such as videoconferencing and digital signatures.
3. Rakuten will strive to respond flexibly to society's changing needs through the provision of its services.

As a global business, Rakuten has learned and shared best practices from across all of its regions of operations. At different times in the course of this pandemic, the regions have faced many similar challenges, presenting opportunities to build on and refine the company’s response. Rakuten has held daily global taskforce meetings with members from across the globe to help the Group understand and continuously review the approaches taken to counteract the spread of COVID-19. Rakuten formulated these guidelines in order to define the framework for a common approach, while at the same time enabling local flexibility, helping to ensure that Rakuten employees and their families and communities are safe wherever they may work.

Update on new Rakuten corporate guidelines and initiatives in Japan

1. Rakuten will manage each of its locations in accordance with the newly formulated guidelines regarding criteria for use and measures against the spread of COVID-19, as all employees continue to work from home as a general rule.

All employees in Japan will continue to work from home as a general rule. If it is necessary for employees to use Rakuten Group offices or other locations*1, in line with legal or regulatory requirements or business continuity, Rakuten will specify the work to be done at each location, and confirm via a checklist that body temperature checks are implemented when entering the building, sanitizer is available, indoor spaces are ventilated, social distancing is ensured, and partitions are in place, among other necessary measures. Employees will only be able to be physically present at locations with final approval from the managing executive officer and COVID-19 taskforce, and in numbers within the predetermined limit.

2. Rakuten will continue to promote the ability of employees to work from home through the proactive use of IT resources such as videoconferencing and digital signatures.

  • Training for new staff via the videoconferencing system

Prior to the pandemic, Rakuten had broadly implemented videoconferencing and encouraged its use. This system is currently used for a wide range of purposes, including not only internal meetings, training and recruiting, but also meetings with business partners and online events. Rakuten has also successfully conducted internal trials on the use of digital signatures in place of physical seals and hand-written signatures for business contracts and other similar tasks which previously required employees to be physically present in the office. The company is now making arrangements to fully implement this system and hold internal and external information sharing sessions on how it will be used.

3. Rakuten will strive to respond flexibly to society’s changing needs through the provision of its services.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Rakuten has implemented various initiatives in relation to its services, including careful restriction of the sale of masks and sanitizer, support for the deployment of accommodation for COVID-19 patients in collaboration with accommodation facilities and local governments, expedition of payments to business partners and the provision of select services free of charge*2. Rakuten has also begun providing new and improved services in line with changing social needs as a result of the global pandemic, such as Rakuten Realtime Takeout, which supports local restaurants by providing takeout services, and new offline/online hybrid event support solutions that combine services provided by Rakuten Ticket and Rakuten TV.

Rakuten Group company initiatives in Japan supporting medical institutions and industries deeply affected by the global pandemic (as of June 11, 2020)

Rakuten Realtime Takeout:
Rakuten Launches Takeout Support Service for Restaurants: “Rakuten Realtime Takeout” Offers Pre-Orders and Pre-Payment

Rakuten Ticket & Rakuten TV:
Rakuten Launches Solutions to Support Offline/Online Hybrid Live Events by Combining Rakuten Ticket and Rakuten TV

Rakuten Clutch Special Charity Fund:
Rakuten Clutch Special Charity Fund Begins Accepting Donations for COVID-19 Crisis Response

Marketing Division of Rakuten, Inc.:
Rakuten worked together with athletes from around the world to deliver a special thank you message to all those who have continued to work throughout the COVID-19 pandemic in order to keep society going.

See here for a complete list of Rakuten initiatives in Japan (*Japanese only):

Update on new Rakuten corporate guidelines and initiatives in the Americas, EMEA and APAC regions

Apart from locations where business continuity requires employees to be onsite, Rakuten Americas has largely transitioned to telework. Rakuten office sites in the Americas are currently closed and employees have been notified that they are not required to return to office sites within this year. Conditions for re-opening will vary by office location, number of employees, floor space available, transportation options, ownership and other factors that must be taken into account in order to ensure the health and safety of our employees, partners and customers.

While many Rakuten Europe offices have re-opened on a limited basis, some across the region remain closed. While the timing of the return to the office will vary by country, Rakuten Europe is striving to be consistent across the region in ensuring employee and partner health and safety through the implementation of return to work guidelines, including social distancing, zoning and temperature checks.

Some Rakuten Asia offices in low-risk countries have re-opened on a limited basis with management measures in place to ensure employee and partner safety, but most of the offices across the region remain closed. As conditions and regulations vary by location, Rakuten Asia will closely monitor and consider individual situations and introduce countermeasures to maintain the safety of employees.

Initiatives taken by Rakuten Group companies outside of Japan supporting UNICEF, healthcare institutions, teachers, merchants, professional sports and more (as of June 11, 2020)

Rakuten Viber:
Rakuten Viber has continued to partner with governmental institutions around the globe, opening more than 110 official COVID-19 communities and chat bots in 15 countries as of June 2020. Verified news about the pandemic situation, measures undertaken and new regulations in many regions were delivered through Viber, reaching over 15 million people worldwide.

Following the success of its Group Audio Calls feature, Rakuten Viber has now also introduced Group Video Calls without a limit in duration. This comes at a time of growing demand for large-scale video calls to replicate face-to-face gatherings, whether with family, friends or colleagues. The newly introduced feature enables group video calls for up to 20 people with unlimited duration.

With the aim of responding to the increased need for remote education alternatives amidst the pandemic, Rakuten Viber also created Viber communities for teachers, providing relevant and handy information to teachers looking for conventional educational alternatives to over 206,000 members to date.

Rakuten France:
In addition to the support measures for its partners provided since the beginning of the lockdown, Rakuten France has launched a platform called PROTECT. PROTECT is made available to all retailers so that they can equip themselves with products such as masks, hydro-alcoholic gels and gloves. Suppliers favoring sales in large volumes and small retailers may encounter difficulties in ordering these products. PROTECT enables them to equip themselves with smaller quantities of stock, adapted to their activity. Rakuten France suggests that interested merchants activate the “click & collect” option to permit consumers to pick up their purchases in the store two hours after ordering, while respecting the required safety and health measures. Finally, to speed up the training of merchants on digital aspects, the Rakuten France teams have set up a support program in the form of webinars to help merchants open specialist stores.

Rakuten Cup Online:
Rakuten.es together with Sports & Life held a special charity tournament, the Rakuten Cup Online, on Rakuten Sports' Twitch channel on May 9. The FIFA 20 tournament featured actual players from FC Barcelona, Real Madrid and Manchester City with all donations going to UNICEF.

Rakuten Europe:
In a sustainability effort for employees, a diverse cast of Rakuten Europe, Rakuten Advertising and ShopStyle staff members based in London and Luxembourg participated in the creation of a fun and uplifting short film about working from home, based on their own experiences.

Optimistic Ambassador Challenge:
Rakuten worked with brand ambassadors Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors), Andrés Iniesta (Vissel Kobe) and Marie Kondo (KonMari) to inspire fans to find creative ways to stay positive while at home through short, home-made videos shared on social media.

*1 Certain businesses and services that are deemed to be part of social infrastructure and whose continued operations have been requested by the government, even under the state of emergency, have been exempted from this policy and will continue to operate as normal, with reinforced measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and each employee closely monitoring their personal health condition.
*2 See the following link for more details about the initiatives implemented by the Rakuten Group to date in relation to COVID-19.

*Please note that the information contained in press releases is current as of the date of release.

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