To All Employees of the PPIH Group
Living in the time of the COVID-19 Pandemic:
To all of my colleagues, I would first like to thank you for your commitment to your work.
The COVID-19 pandemic has plunged the world into a crisis that surpasses anything we could have imagined. I see no end in sight to this crisis, which means that we must take a long-term approach toward responding to this situation. The Japanese government declared a state of emergency today. I intend to issue separate instructions and share information on specific measures on another occasion, but for now, I would like to present you with these messages describing my thoughts on how we should live during the COVID-19 pandemic.
My First Message to All-Thank You
I have nothing but gratitude for the bravery of each and every employee who commits themselves to work at our stores. I firmly believe that bravery is the best word to describe your decision to come to work at our stores and offices, day and night, because, without your brave actions, our stores could not be operated. I thank you for that. The shop floors of the PPIH Group are an important part of our social infrastructure, providing food, masks, and other items necessary for keeping us safe, as well as any other items we need to go about our everyday lives. I have great respect for those who are directly involved with the care of COVID-19 patients, especially healthcare professionals, and the very same respect goes to you. Thank you.
You all have your private lives and you all have those whom you care for?family, friends, and others. But, your profession requires your dedication, in many different ways; some were forthcoming about feeling ill and are now quarantining themselves at home, others in our COVID-19 response headquarters constantly keep us up-to-date on information from both inside and outside of the Group, still others rushed to the scene to help us open our second location in Bangkok, and more still traveled to California to lead our U.S. operations. The actions of each and every individual deserve grateful recognition.
As your president, I should not take it for granted that you work around the clock to keep our stores open. You are going above and beyond. Faced with the present circumstances, the reason why we all work is to contribute to society by exercising our corporate principle of “The Customer Matters Most.” This means keeping our stores open so that they can function as lifelines for their communities. There are no words to express the depth of my appreciation for the valiant efforts of those of you working so hard to make sure our stores can run. Thank you all so much. (Please know that there will also be cases in which we shorten business hours and take other practical response measures as necessitated by Japan’s state of emergency declaration.)
My Second Message to All-Stick Out Your Chin, and Let Us Move Forward Together, Even When There is No Goal in Sight
Humanity’s battle against COVID-19 is not limited to a single location or company. Rather, it is a fierce battle needing to be fought on a global scale. As you are no doubt aware, no one has a clear picture of when this battle will end or how it will unfold in the future. We need to understand that this battle is like a marathon with no goal in sight. We do not know when this situation will end; it could be a month, a year, or longer. This uncertainty makes the situation even more difficult as we are unable to determine how we should pace ourselves.
But, rest assured knowing that I am committed to ensuring that you will be safe at work within the Company. Centered on the COVID-19 response headquarters, every member of the PPIH Group’s management is committed to adapting to the changes we face as necessary to survive this long battle. This battle will come to an end eventually. Until that day, I urge you to coordinate your efforts with management through our COVID-19 hotline and other means. Meanwhile, your top priority should be your own health and safety. We have a long fight ahead of us. If you feel ill, do not push yourselves. Supervisors should also manage their teams so as to create a situation in which those who need to stay home can do so without serious issues arising. Mates, in particular, are a vital asset to the Group. All managers need to be aware of the fact that protecting the safety of mates is vital to the Group’s survival.
I also hope to call upon your insight, especially from those of you interacting directly with customers at our stores. For this purpose, we will launch a project on April 8 to capitalize on the passion and commitment of you all. Your fun ideas and proposals will be solicited through this project. Let’s shoot for 1,000 awarded proposals! In this era of uncertainty, I hope we will receive a plethora of ideas rooted in the needs of our customers.
The Third Message to All-Avoid Poorly Ventilated Spaces, Close Interactions, and Crowds at and away from Work
One task I am charged with is to create environments and entrench rules that will allow all employees to work with peace of mind while keeping them safe. For this reason, I have had the COVID-19 response headquarters transmit information on safety measures based on the current situation we face. In particular, I would like you all to try and avoid the risk factors described by the news, specifically poorly ventilated spaces, close interactions, and crowds whether at or away from work. There are a number of factors shared among incidents of mass infection, namely poor ventilation, spaces in which people gather and engage in close interactions, and places where it is difficult to avoid close contact with crowds. Please avoid situations that may expose you to such conditions. The government of Japan has issued a similar request.
For the sake of colleagues who share your goals, I ask that you understand this situation and strictly adhere to the relevant rules. We have a lot of young employees. To these individuals, it may seem odd to limit their actions in this manner, especially if they are in good health. However, I ask you to remember that you interact with customers on our shop floors. It is therefore important that you comply with these limitations in order to prevent customers from being exposed to the risk of infection.
My Fourth Message to All-Maintain Peace of Mind and Show Empathy to COVID-19 Victims
This unexpected crisis has no doubt left many of you plagued with a sense of uncertainty. Nevertheless, I urge you to maintain peace of mind. The rules I have put forth were decided upon with your health and safety as the top priority. We want both full-time employees and mates to be able to continue working with peace of mind.
Given the size of the PPIH Group, we must assume that, at some point, a Group member will be infected with and test positive for COVID-19. Should this happen, we must remember that it is the COVID-19 victims themselves who will be suffering the most. Thus, it will be important for us to understand how they feel and pray for their safe recovery.
My Fifth Message to All-Learn to Play Soccer on a Bike
There has been somewhat of a serious tone to the four preceding messages, and I would therefore like to end on a lighter note.
Think back to when you were a kid, or when kids were little. I assume it was tough for you, or for them, to learn to ride a bike on the first try. You, or they, probably felt really anxious when the training wheels came off. Most likely fell many times, facing a struggle with no clear goal in sight as a child. Then one day, you suddenly found yourself riding a bike with no trouble at all.
How we work is currently changing; some are finding themselves working while wearing surgical masks or other face coverings, and others are working from home. I am approaching and getting used to these changes while thinking back to when I learned to ride a bike as a child. Just like riding a bike, I think these changes are something we can handle once we get used to them. Currently, we may find ourselves falling on a daily basis, but the day when we are able to ride comfortably cannot be far off.
Unfortunately, I am sad to say that adapting to these changes will be harder than learning to ride a bike. Rather, this process will be more akin to something like learning to play soccer while riding a bike. Playing soccer while riding a bike is something that is likely incredibly difficult. However, if we can get used to it, the current dips in productivity, which I cannot deny, may not only get better; we might actually see a boost in productivity in terms of both speed and the complexity of the tasks we can handle.
I suspect that we are all facing a great deal of stress, feeling confined and having to work in a manner to which we are not accustomed. When the stress piles up, it may be advantageous to think of it as tackling a new challenge, like advancing from playing soccer to playing “bicycle soccer.” I too intend to adopt this outlook.
Our battle with COVID-19 will continue. However, I am confident that we can overcome this challenge if we all band together and unite our strengths.
We will find ways to return to our normal lives!
In closing, please allow me to say once again, “Thank you, my dear colleagues.”
President and CEO, Representative Director
Note: This message is a translation of the original Japanese-language message, which was issued on 7 April, 2020. All dates and information are as of the date of publication of the original Japanese-language message.