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PwC Consulting LLC

Interview conducted in April 2016

*This article is based on research conducted at an earlier date; some details may differ at the present time.

The Japanese Arm of the World’s Largest Professional Services Network Opens a New “Frontline Base” in Tokyo’s Marunouchi District 

 PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) is one of the largest professional services networks in the world, with over 208,000 staff in 756 locations (cities) across 157 countries.
PwC Japan Group provides services relating to areas such as auditing, consulting, deal advisory, and tax services. In March 2016, it established a new “frontline base” in Tokyo’s Marunouchi district to deliver rapid, multifaceted support to customers. We spoke to some of the people involved about the new office’s role, concept, and more.

 

杉山 優子氏

Yuko Sugiyama

Director, General Affairs
PwC Consulting LLC

小澤 清彦氏

Kiyohiko Ozawa

President
Douma Co., Ltd.

天野 大地氏

Daichi Amano

Design Director, Principle
Gensler and Associates International Ltd.

 

 entrance

entrance

Brief Memo

  1. A 1,000-tsubo “miracle” office in a prime downtown location that brings PwC closer to its customers
  2. An advanced office that enables mobile work and improves the frequency and quality of interaction
  3. A single team, including building representatives, completes the project with remarkable speed
  4. A progressive office culture making effective use of space through measures such as shared personal lockers
  5. Achieving diversity by switching from an ownership mentality to a membership mentality

A 1,000-tsubo “miracle” office in a prime downtown location that brings PwC closer to its customers

In November 2009, member firms and their subsidiaries belonging to the PwC Global Network in Japan (which currently include PwC Consulting LLC, PwC Advisory LLC, and PricewaterhouseCoopers Aarata), which had previously been dispersed across six different locations, integrated their operations at a single site: the Sumitomo Fudosan Shiodome Hama-Rikyu Building in Tokyo’s Ginza 8-chome district (Chuo Ward).

Subsequently, as the business grew thanks to the economy’s recovery from the global financial crisis and hiring increased accordingly, the Shiodome office started to become too small. As a result, in March 2016, PwC Japan opened a new office, this time in the Marunouchi Park Building in Marunouchi 2-chome (Chiyoda Ward).

Yuko Sugiyama: “Three companies in PwC Japan’s consulting practice combined to establish the new PwC Consulting LLC, which offers comprehensive consulting services from strategy through execution. It was this unit that moved to the Marunouchi office, which therefore serves as a ‘frontline base’.”

The Shiodome office extends across ten floors within one building, and according to Sugiyama, the environment could be stressful due to factors such as having to wait a long time for the elevator when moving up and down between floors. For that reason, it was determined that the new office would be a single-floor environment where people would not have to go up and down between levels.

Sugiyama: “The most important reason for selecting Marunouchi was that it is located close to our customers. The goal was to have an office environment that facilitates client-facing interactions.”

Needless to say, rents are steep in a prime location such as Marunouchi. However, whereas the consulting division was using a total of around 1,350 tsubo of floor space before, it is only using about 1,000 tsubo in the Marunouchi office (although this is expected to increase in future as more staff are hired). What’s more, since some 300 tsubo of this is devoted to conference rooms, the actual working space is around 700 tsubo. Despite the fact that the working area has been almost halved, there is plenty of space to accommodate every staff member.

Sugiyama: “I call it the ‘1,000-tsubo miracle.’ Also, when we looked at employee expenses at the Shiodome office, we found that costs such as taxi fares and commuter train passes were quite a bit higher. It’s not a trivial amount of money. When you consider that as well, I think you can say that, overall, there’s been an improvement in our office costs.”

One reason for this is that fares on the line mainly used by employees at the Shiodome office are high compared to other lines. All the same, it really does seem a miracle when you consider that the firm was actually able to lower its costs by setting up a new office in a prime location—thanks to shrinking its floor space and reducing transportation expenses.

office

office

An advanced office that enables mobile work and improves the frequency and quality of interaction

The concept for the Marunouchi office was to be aligned with the concept of the Shiodome office while serving as a “frontline base” that would enable PwC to be closer to clients and build stronger relations with them. To achieve this, development was handled by Douma Co., Ltd., which had created the concept for the Shiodome office, and Gensler and Associates International Ltd., which had designed it.

Sugiyama: “It’s like the sequel to a movie, where the script is written by the same people as the original.”

Kiyohiko Ozawa: “For the new office, just like the previous one, we surveyed all the staff about their working habits, and to be honest, I was surprised at how much things had evolved. Within the past seven years, the time spent interacting with the clients who are our core business has increased by about 50%, and conversely, the time devoted to office work at the company had decreased by 50%. In terms of both its direction and speed, I really think the company’s evolution has been ideal.”

During that seven-year period, there have also been significant changes in the various types of electronic devices used in the business world. This is most readily apparent in the transition from cell phones to smartphones. Along with hardware, software has also undergone rapid evolution.

Sugiyama: “A key issue at the Marunouchi office, since it involved the integration of three companies, was improving the frequency and quality of interaction. Before the move, people were using devices of various types, but we established consistent standards and made Wi-Fi accessible throughout the entire office. Our aim was for it to be an advanced office that enables mobile work.”

Previously, for cost reasons, conventional projectors were sometimes used instead of monitors for teleconferencing and the like, but now, thanks to significant reductions in the prices of AV equipment, all projectors have been replaced by TV monitors.

Sugiyama: “Two years ago, when a PwC global meeting was held at the Shiodome office, I felt really proud when one of the PwC country leaders who was taking part from another country praised the office’s world-class conference rooms. It made me appreciate the speed with which Japan’s office environment evolves.”

 Social Cafe

Social Cafe

A single team, including building representatives, completes the project with remarkable speed

As part of an international network, it was necessary for PwC Japan to follow certain common global PwC guidelines when designing the Marunouchi office, and since the design had to be checked at each stage, it took quite some time before everything was agreed on. However, besides representatives from PwC and the concept and design firms, representatives from the building were also involved in meetings right from the start, and with everyone working together as one team, progress was smoother than expected.

Sugiyama: “Starting from July 2015, we held meetings once a week and we were able to decide everything by mid-October. The building representative told us that this was remarkably fast.”

Daichi Amano: “Basically, with PwC’s global branding in mind, we proposed a design that incorporated the brand into the framework. Our intention was to create an environment that everyone at the company would feel proud of and that would naturally generate a sense of belonging.”

The schedule from the time the design was finalized until the work had to be completed allowed no margin for error, but all of the team members, including the building representatives, were on the same wavelength and worked on the project with a strong determination to make absolutely sure it was completed on time.

Amano: “Everyone had an opinion, but when it came to each issue or request, the debate was not about ‘Can we do this or not?’—instead, for the most part, it was a positive discussion about ‘How are we going to do this?’”

Ozawa: “It’s very difficult to visualize the process of creating a structure. However, it’s easier to approach it if you think about things in terms of what the office will look like after it’s completed. I think it was good that we looked at the visual elements in detail during our meetings.”

 
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