Work place design solutions in post recession Japan
The universal objectives for office fit-out and relocation is to optimize efficiency and communication, whilst holding on to a valuable work force by providing an inspiring and attractive work environment. But is it so important that we justify the expenditure in post-recession Japan?
As many companies in Japan, both domestic and foreign, still struggle for economic recovery, and now face added challenges in the aftermath of the recent natural disasters, many will keep “CUTTING COST” at the top of their agendas. Slashing all “unnecessary spending” for many companies often means intentions of redesigning or plans to relocate, are promptly dumped on the back burner. Companies that have been required to take these measures due to changes in the business in recent years are ready to scrutinize the value of the investment to meet that bottom-line. And who can blame them?
But design is far from dead in 2011. From the perspective of an office interior design company in post-recession Tokyo, the challenges faced over the years have been a catalyst for fresh ideas within work place solutions. The results are integrated design concepts that are all together economical, flexible, future-safe and sustainable without sacrificing the appearance or conveniences of an office.
In recent years we have seen the emergence of design trends like the “hoteling”, also known as “hot desking” work place. Designated seating to match the company’s headcount on a 1-to-1 basis is replaced by touch down areas. This environment suits the work style of mobile employees, who spend more time outside the office, than at their desk. The touch down areas can offer work benches, or even standing positions, for working with mobile devices such as laptop computers or smartphones.
Open meeting areas, sometimes designed in a café style, promote collaborative work and creativity more than traditional enclosed meeting rooms. The remaining meeting rooms tend to be flexible, multi-purpose enclosed rooms for confidential conversations or for accommodating a temporary visitor from abroad. Thanks to paperless corporate policies, storage space can be reduced and revamped for other office needs.
In Japan this design concept is known as “free address”, but sometimes it suffers misunderstanding from Japanese executives. The objective of such design is not only to reduce the overall size of the rented office space, but also to promote an agile, more productive work style in synergy with mobile technologies.
Abandoning tradition and making changes to the office on this scale requires the consent and backing of everyone involved. A company should take time to carefully socialize such ideas internally beforehand, in order to reach a consensus, rather than pushing the changes on a vertical management style. Office design consulting firms are doing well to advise companies on the best solutions for them, through field research and internal surveys.
For the average Japanese office, work place design has come a long way in the last 20 years. There is an increasing interest by Japanese companies to evolve from a unilateral management style to a collaborative work environment. Triggered also by differing standards of foreign affiliated firms based here, we see a rippling desire to “shed the gray” and depart from the traditional features of a Japanese office space.
The recession is not a cause for regression in terms of office design. With a pinch of innovation and creativity, it is possible to satisfy all client needs and wants in an office design project today. Creating a productive work space that is modern, human focused and personal, within a justifiable budget is wholly achievable and no less important in a time when a committed work force is more crucial than ever. It comes down to a joint challenge of design professionals and their corporate clients to embrace some new work solutions to achieve these objectives- the path to recovery doesn’t have to be a bitter gray one.
You can also read an interview with the CEO of Midas in the Japan Today business news.
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