Hit Habit Forecast: Cross-border part-time gigs

May 25, 2021
  • Viewpoints

Hit Habit Forecast is a regular column of the Hit Habit Makers, a group of young planners at Hakuhodo HQ that gamely stood up to say they were going to create hit habits—not hit products—as consumption shifts from purchasing things to purchasing experiences. Analyzing social media accounts and purchasing data of highly sophisticated users and conducting analysis on popular articles, etc. in a variety of media that have their fingers on the pulse of social trends, this is the bold, new challenge of forecasting hit habits that are about to break.


Hello. I’m Daichi Nagai of the Hit Habit Makers.

We’ve been having some wet weather, suggesting the rainy season is upon us in Japan. How are you all doing? I’ve been holed up at home lately, looking to take on a new challenge.

Today I’d like to discuss “cross-border part-time gigs.”

As the name suggests, this refers to doing a part-time job in a place other than your own. Sometimes meaning part-time jobs across prefectural borders, in this edition I’d like to think about worldwide part-time gigs that cross Japan’s border.

As securing the workplace and stable income you might have expected becomes more difficult due to restrictions on movement and store operations as a result of the pandemic, cross-border part-time gigs are suddenly gaining attention as a new part-time or second job option.

First, take a look at the Google Trends graph below. While interest in “fukugyō” (second jobs) has been rising year by year, the trend is likely to accelerate in these times when “new work styles” is on everyone’s lips.

Source: Google Trends (searches for fukugyō)

So what kinds of such part-time and second jobs are there? I asked friends who have one of these gigs and did various research of my own, so allow me to introduce a few kinds here.

First, we have online language teaching.

This has been around for a while, but since there are no special qualifications to register and there are even specialized smartphone apps now, more people have been signing up without reservation since the pandemic. If you look on Twitter, too, you’ll find lots of comments from people who started teaching as an odd job at home in their spare time. One friend of mine who has studied abroad told me, “It might be the perfect job, because you can do it at home, on your own, and it helps you meet people.” As an indoors type myself, I am quite envious. With matching apps that let you talk to people from different linguistic backgrounds booming these days, the online language teaching market looks ripe for further expansion.

Next, we have managing corporate social media accounts.

You often see international companies and sports teams creating Japanese social media accounts. In this gig, the operation of these accounts is entrusted to local (Japanese) part-timers. People behind the scenes operating these official accounts communicate directly with followers on social media and generate posts that create buzz. While there are likely to be guidelines and key performance indicators (KPIs) in terms of branding, in the future, these companies may even outsource their decision-making in order to communicate at the pace of local information.

The last example I’d like to introduce is market research.

This is a cross-border part-time gig my friend has actually begun. What I hear is that they’ve been contracted to help a Chinese gaming company that’s looking to enter the Japanese market understand trends in the Japanese gaming market by producing an analysis report and creating a concept based on its findings. The company has contracted an individual that doesn’t have experience in this work, so I don’t think a high level of sophistication or skill is required. It appears to be like hiring a detective. Apparently, my friend works flexibly 2–3 days a week, and the remuneration is paid using a Chinese cashless payment app.

Investigating further I found all kinds of work here and there, from major work to niche stuff, including video editing, writing advertising copy for the Japanese market, management work for Japanese live content creators and scouting future net idols.

So there you have a few cross-border part-time gigs, but why are they in the spotlight now?

Firstly, as I mentioned at the beginning, as restrictions on people’s movements and business operations due to the pandemic continue, more people have lost their usual workplaces and have more time on their hands. Meanwhile, work that can be completed online tends not to be impacted in this way so it is, I believe, emerging as a new work option for those with foreign language skills.

Another reason might be that, with the spread of blockchain technology and cashless payment options, moving funds across borders has become easier. Actually, if you specify payment of remuneration by QR code payment, you can receive e-money directly on your smartphone, which, depending on store, you can even use to pay for things in Japan. Thanks to the QR code payment system, which was originally introduced for use by foreign tourists visiting Japan, it is now even possible to bypass the hassle of exchanging the funds.

Finally, I thought a bit about the potential business opportunities offered by cross-border part-time gigs.

Examples of cross-border part-time gigs
■ Developing a cross-border part-time gig introduction service for Japanese people
■ Developing a crowdsourcing platform to allow Japanese companies, regardless of their specializations or foreign language abilities, to easily outsource work to non-Japanese people
■ Specialized consulting that focuses on cross-border part-time gigs that will efficiently increase income and build skills
And so on.

I encourage any of you interested to give it a go. Naturally, you should first check relevant laws and, if you work for a company, your company’s work regulations. With a dream of working like this in the future, I’m working hard to learn a foreign language.


Daichi Nagai
Member of the Hit Habit Makers
Sei-katsu-sha Experience Creative Division
Hakuhodo Inc.
Daichi Nagai joined Hokkaido Hakuhodo in 2018 and was assigned to the Sei-katsu-sha Experience Creative Division at Hakuhodo HQ in 2021. With his mission as an integrated planner, you’ll normally find him roaming some town or another every night, hunting for insights into future lifestyles, from the underground to the mainstream.
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