State-of-the-Art Office Case Studies: Offices Supporting Management

GREE, Inc.

June 2013

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

The simple office layout, designed first and foremost to provide a sense of unity, represents the open culture that has been part of the company since the very beginning.

Looking at GREE’s office, it’s an efficient work space based on a universal design, with no special features built into the physical structure. This very simplicity makes it seem fresh and appealing in today’s business world.

The concept of an office layout that provides a sense of unity is something that has not changed since the company was founded. Indeed, it’s one of GREE’s management principles.

“Other companies have a more clearly defined hierarchy, and in many cases, different desks and chairs are provided along with offices for executives. But at GREE, all the employees interact on an equal footing, so executives normally do their work sitting alongside other employees in the work area. The result is that this has encouraged the creation of a free, open corporate culture with a strong sense of unity. Another benefit of a simple office is that when there are sudden organizational changes or employees move to another department, the changes can be made smoothly with minimal renovation costs.”

This doesn’t mean, however, that no steps are taken to facilitate communication within the office. GREE, needless to say, understands how important that is.

“There’s a break room on the floor, which is an area where employees can communicate freely. At lunchtime, lunch boxes are sold there, and we believe that this leads to more active communication between colleagues. Beds and massage chairs for relaxation have been placed in one corner of the room, with no restrictions on when they can be used. On Friday evenings, we also hold a dinner for employees known internally as the ‘Friday party’.”

“The break room has a simple but elegant layout that can easily be adapted to handle growth in employee numbers. There are about 300 chairs available for using it as a communication space. The materials were also selected with care: we went with the designers and contractor to look at flooring and the like.”

What’s more, there are three seminar rooms with enough space to accommodate over 300 people each.

“In the past, one seminar room was enough, but as the number of employees increased we no longer had enough space, so now we have three rooms in the office. We also take off the removable sliding walls dividing the three rooms to hold our general staff meetings every Monday and monthly meetings at the end of each month. It’s possible for people at branches other than Tokyo to see and hear what’s happening at these meetings by attending remotely via computer network.”

“Having about 1,200 people gather in one room every week has a really strong impact in terms of giving employees a sense of togetherness as they do their work.”

“In addition, we have set up a space near the development team where we hold training for engineers, called the GREE Boot Camp. It’s a place that the leader and other team members can use for training new employees whenever they like. The desks and chairs differ from those in the rest of the office.”

Some other distinctive aspects of the office are described below.

Visitors’ Entrance

The visitors’ entrance has a glassed-in design, with a white color scheme, creating a sophisticated overall look. A giant monitor (GREE Vision) is installed in the front, which has the following effects:

  • It gives visitors a taste of what is GREE is doing now.
  • Original videos are shown on the screen, promoting GREE as a company offering social networking services.
  • It provides visitors with a sense of GREE’s creativity while they wait.
  • A striking visual effect can be created by using additional colors that contrast with the elegant white background.

“The ambience of the entrance and the transparent use of color seem to be greatly appreciated by visitors. We’ve received feedback saying that it makes an impression on them or that it expresses the company’s character. Employees have also said the same.”

The various meeting rooms where visitors are hosted are named after places in Silicon Valley that made a strong impression on CEO Tanaka during his college days.

Work Area

A distinctive feature of GREE is that none of its offices, from past to present, have had walls within the work area. The layout is simple, open, and flexible, creating a sense of unity. The company is devoted to this office concept, which has been important ever since it was founded.

What’s more, there are free spaces with hexagonal tables set up within the work area which employees can use for small, informal discussions. Since there’s no need to reserve these spaces in order to use them, they help make it possible for work to proceed smoothly.

The open work area with no partitions

The open work area with no partitions

Its relocation may be complete, but GREE is still gathering office information...

Two years have passed since the relocation was completed. Although GREE is currently accommodating employee growth by expanding its floor space within the building, it’s always gathering more information about the surrounding office market and vacancies.

“Relocating our office goes hand in hand with the evolution of our operations, and we believe we always have to be prepared to adapt to sudden changes in the business environment or market conditions. That’s why, even now, though the relocation is complete, we continue to ask Sanko Estate to share information with us regularly. It’s good to have a large amount of information and timely access to details about the latest buildings before they go on the market. We deal with several sales representatives of Sanko Estate, and all of them are quick to meet our needs and provide precise answers when we ask them questions or consult them. It gives you peace of mind to know that a company like that is there for you.”

GREE’s Office

Visitors’ entrance

Visitors’ entrance

The scene during a general staff meeting

The scene during a general staff meeting

Break room (during lunch)

Break room (during lunch)

Free space in office area

Free space in office area

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