State-of-the-Art Office Case Studies:

Offices Supporting Management

BANDAI SPIRITS

Interview conducted in March 2019

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

A Hobby Entertainment Company Reforms Its Working Methods with a New Office Design

The Bandai Namco Group’s corporate philosophy is to become the leading innovator in global entertainment by providing “dreams, fun, and inspiration.” In April 2018, it launched a new mid-term plan with the purpose of continuing pursuit of challenges, growth, and evolution without being bound by previous business models or established ideas to achieve change and progress to the next stage. Bandai Spirits was established as one means of achieving this goal. For this article, we asked about the background to the new company’s founding, the consolidation and relocation of various offices, and key features of the new office.

 

Rika Hinata

Tatsuya Kawase

General Affairs Team
General Affairs Department
Bandai Spirits Co.,Ltd.

 

Break area

Open Space

Brief Memo

  1. Integration of “High-Target” Business Leads to Creation of Bandai Spirits
  2. Becoming More Physically Efficient by Consolidating Four Sites at Once
  3. Validating the Office’s User-Friendliness by Imagining Employees at Work There
  4. An Entrance Design Inspired by the Nature of the New Company’s Business
  5. Seeking to Reform the Company’s Work Methods through Office Design

Integration of “High-Target” Business Leads to Creation of Bandai Spirits

Ever since it started operations in July 1950, Bandai (known as Bandai-ya at the time of its founding) has supplied a variety of toys and hobby-related products. It has also continued to develop intellectual property (IP) in Japan in the form of character goods and expand its business on the global level.

In May 2005, Bandai and Namco Co., Ltd. announced that they would merge their operations. In September of the same year, Bandai Namco Holdings was established. Since then, the company has actively pursued overseas expansion (with offices in 12 countries at present) and pushed forward with business aimed at the international market. With Japanese characters enjoying global popularity in recent years, it now offers “dreams, fun, and inspiration” to people around the world.

In April 2018, the Bandai Namco Group launched a new mid-term plan. Bandai, the main company in the group’s Toys and Hobby Unit, integrated divisions that primarily developed business aimed at the “high target” market (i.e., adult consumers of toys and hobby products), with the objective of growing the global high target business in future. This led to the creation of Bandai Spirits.

“First, in February 2018, there was a merger of the division that planned and developed figures and super-alloy and plastic models for adult consumers at Bandai and the division that planned and developed prize goods for convenience stores, bookstores, and so on at Banpresto,“ explains Kawase. “The idea was that developing business as one company with a clearly defined target market would increase the scope of innovation. Then, in April 2019, there was a merger with Banpresto, which develops prize goods and the like for amusement centers, with the idea of not just focusing on the high-target market but developing a lineup of high-spec products aimed at a diverse customer base, including hobbyists who have been using Bandai products since they were children, female history buffs, viewers of late-night anime, and young people who frequently attend events.”

Becoming More Physically Efficient by Consolidating Four Sites at Once

Since it was not possible to combine the offices right away following the establishment of the new company, business continued to be conducted at multiple sites for some time, including Bandai’s head office in Tokyo’s Taito Ward and the Bandai Namco Future Research Institute located in Minato Ward.

“Bandai Namco Holdings was housed in the Bandai Namco Future Research Institute to begin with,” notes Kawase. “It made sense to establish the new company nearby, so in January 2018, when the current office building was completed, we immediately secured some vacant floors. Not only was it convenient to be near Holdings, but it also reduced the time and costs associated with moving. I think we made the right choice when we decided to relocate here.”

Kawase says that simply bringing together multiple scattered offices in a single location greatly improved the efficiency of operations. The new office occupies seven floors of a large building in a convenient location that may be accessed via a JR railway line and two subway lines. The roughly square-shaped space, which facilitates office layout, was also appealing.

Validating the Office’s User-Friendliness by Imagining Employees at Work There

“I officially became Bandai Spirits’ general affairs manager in April 2018,” says Kawase. “Prior to that, I had supervised office relocations and layout changes as part of the general affairs team at Banpresto, another company in the group. I’d been involved in quite a large number of layout changes within a short period of time, but this was my first experience with integrating several sites into a single location.”

In April, when he was appointed as manager, meetings about the interior design schedule had already begun. At that time, it had been decided that all personnel would start working at the new office on September 1 and that the seven leased floors (floors 6 to 12) would be divided up by department.

“It was a rather tight schedule for a project that involved moving around 400 people all at once,” notes Kawase. “My supervisor handled internal coordination, while I mainly supervised all on-site work for the project. Since we were bringing together colleagues from various teams with different work cultures, it did not always proceed smoothly. The actual tasks to be carried out varied widely. They included planning the disposal of old furniture and fixtures and procuring new ones, giving instructions for disposal of documents stored in the office, creating explanatory materials for employees, putting together an interior design plan, preparing press releases for distribution, updating printed corporate materials, notifying the relevant authorities, packing and organizing boxes, planning loading and unloading, and verifying everything after the move, to name just those that spring to mind. The work was really diverse in scope.”

The office layout had been finalized to a certain extent. However, many improvements were identified as result of holding multiple meetings.

“We tried to imagine our employees using the office based on the original layout,” Kawase recalls. “When we did that, we found that some elements were not aligned with our corporate culture and spirit. If we started using the new office without making any changes, sooner or later we would have to devote time and money to improving it. That was something we wanted to avoid. We sat down with the designers multiple times and gradually revised the layout while exchanging ideas.”

With the layout design finalized up to a point, interior work began. Every detail was verified, down to selecting the furniture, equipment, and fixtures. Then it was time to relocate to the new office. The moving process took three weeks in August and was carried out one floor at a time.

 
 
 
 
 
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