State-of-the-Art Office Case Studies:

Offices Supporting Management

 
 

NEC Networks & System Integration Corporation Prequel

January 2015

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

Running an “EmpoweredOffice” Based on Four Key Concepts Constantly Seeking New Ways of Working

NEC Networks & System Integration Corporation provides solutions to various issues faced by companies in the communications infrastructure field. A pioneer in proposing next-generation ways of working, in 2007 it launched an office innovation solution, EmpoweredOffice. The company established a new head office based on this concept, which has generated new added value. This case study provides an overview of the office concept which has been in place since 2007 and explains some specific innovative features.

Project supervisors

Akifumi Yue

Akifumi Yue
Division Manager
EmpoweredOffice Sales Promotion Division
Enterprise Solutions Operation Unit
NEC Networks & System Integration Corporation

Satoko Suzuki

Satoko Suzuki
Center Manager
EmpoweredOffice Design Center
EmpoweredOffice Sales Promotion Division
Enterprise Solutions Operation Unit
NEC Networks & System Integration Corporation

NEC Networks & System Integration Corporation

Brief Memo

  1. Office innovation solution launched in 2007 based on the EmpoweredOffice concept
  2. Overcoming all kinds of barriers to connect people and information: An approach to work style innovation
  3. Pursuing further office design evolution based on previous innovations
  4. A new office with a host of features that transform the space through new ways of working
  5. Regular satisfaction surveys are conducted and the results applied to further office innovations

Office innovation solution launched in 2007 based on the EmpoweredOffice concept

NEC Networks & System Integration Corporation provides planning, consulting, and design/construction support services relating to information and communications systems. A leader in the ICT sector, it has around 400 offices within Japan. Having started out with the installation of audio communication networks, it has expanded the scope of its business to include constructing network systems for a broad range of customers (enterprises, carriers, government agencies, municipalities) and general information and communications technology (ICT) services, including the IT field.

In 2007, it launched an office innovation solution, EmpoweredOffice, with the goal of offering customers a next-generation way of working that combines ICT and office functions.

Akifumi Yue: “In the past, our business focused on system construction in the voice services field, such as in-house telephone and teleconferencing systems. However, with the stabilization of the Japanese economy, there was growing demand for a proposal of fully integrated office network systems. Given that, we thought we should try to become a one-stop provider of diverse information and communications services. We then proposed a way of working that revolved around the key concept of ‘relocation solutions’.”

However, the concept was not that easy for customers to understand. Therefore, the company decided to set up an office that would enable visiting customers to experience the idea first-hand in a natural way and facilitate proposing the concept to them. This EmpoweredOffice concept was driven by the company’s desire to create an office equipped with features designed to support the people who work there and expand the business.

Satoko Suzuki: “The initiative was rolled out at our former head office in Higashi-Shinagawa. We first introduced it on a trial basis on two floors housing the sales department and some systems engineers. The SECI model*1 had just been published in 2007, so while implementing the concept, we used that as an inspiration when considering the best way of working.”

The following year, the Higashi-Shinagawa office became the company’s first office to receive the Nikkei New Office Award. Since then, office innovation has been a shared goal throughout the company, which has received a further eight Nikkei New Office Awards, including branches and affiliates.

Yue: “Naturally, we were delighted to win the awards, but that’s not our goal. It’s the act of entering the contest that is significant, because, whatever the outcome, that allows us to reflect on the ideas and issues we encountered along the way and to reassess them.”

*1 The SECI model

This is a process model published by Hitotsubashi University Graduate School professor Ikujiro Nonaka that explains how knowledge is created through the sharing and application of knowledge. The idea is that all knowledge arises from tacit knowledge based on individual experience.

Socialization

The process of acquiring and passing on tacit knowledge through shared experiences.

Externalization

The process of transforming acquired tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge that can be shared.

Combination

The process of creating new explicit knowledge by combining different types of explicit knowledge.

Internalization

The process by which individuals put explicit knowledge into practice and master it.

Overcoming all kinds of barriers to connect people and information: An approach to work style innovation

Here, we will present the initiatives undertaken at the Higashi-Shinagawa office in 2007. Broadly speaking, the project consisted of four main elements:

1.Creating a space where people and information come together (way of working that enhances creativity)
  • Work style innovation
    (internal consensus-based approach ⇒ collaboration-based approach)
    (Sharing of issues among everyone involved, leading to solutions)

  • Space that promotes creative activity
    (Sharing of knowledge through spontaneous interaction)

2.Promoting intellectual dynamism
  • A space to resolve issues through interaction with external parties
  • Promoting interaction through ActiveAvatar (virtual alter egos)
3.Setup that enhances employee motivation
  • SECI model board raising awareness of creative ways of working
  • Visible conference rooms
  • Visualization of energy-saving using digital signage
  • Technician training zone equipped with cutting-edge technological environment (NGN Labo)
4.Leveraging of ICT environment
  • Image-projecting desks
  • Electronic blackboards
  • Office-wide wireless LAN
  • Teleconferencing rooms using monitors with high image quality

Yue: “We tried as much as possible to create an office with no impediments to visibility, and we rethought the nature of our conference rooms. We made these two points the core of our office innovation. We asked ourselves how we could overcome the chronic problem of not having enough conference rooms available. To do that, it was necessary to dramatically change the working environment.”

Suzuki: “Naturally, renting an office costs a lot of money, so we asked ourselves, how much can we improve the efficient use of space? Do conference rooms have to be closed areas? What if they were open and anyone was free to join in? Wouldn’t that lead to more proactive communication? We considered these kinds of issues one by one.”

Pursuing further office design evolution based on previous office innovations

Although employees were comfortable at the Higashi-Shinagawa office, the company considered relocating its head office to solve some management issues. The three main issues were:

  1. Reducing office costs through integration (aiming for a 30% reduction in floor space)
  2. Strengthening sales management capacity with the aim of top-line growth (reforming processes across the company)
  3. Enhancing BCP (ensuring business continuity in the event of a major disaster)

Suzuki: “At the time, we had two offices in Tokyo: Higashi-Shinagawa and Shibaura. There was no question that our operational efficiency would be improved by integrating the two separate offices into one, and that would make it possible to reduce our floor space. What’s more, neither office was in a location that could be described as convenient for carrying out sales activities. We were also concerned about the aging of the buildings where we were renting our offices, and since they were adjacent to reclaimed land through which canals ran, it was suggested that we should reconsider the locations from a BCP perspective.”

Yue: “Since the management team required that running costs be reduced, we had to achieve a significant reduction in floor space. Therefore, one of the conditions for choosing the new location was that it should be a building with a lot of space per floor, so that we could derive as much benefit as possible from the reduction. Next, from the perspective of enhancing our sales capacity, many of our customers are financial-related companies in Otemachi and Nihonbashi or communications-related companies in Shinjuku. Therefore, another condition was to select a location that would enable us to rapidly travel to customers’ sites and where we would have access to multiple lines and stations. And with a view to strengthening BCP, it had to be a building with strong earthquake-resistance equipped with emergency power. We narrowed down the choices based on these conditions, and finally decided on the present building.”

For various reasons, including the fact that the financial details had not yet been decided, the plan to relocate the head office was not disclosed even internally. It was finally revealed in May, with the specific details being officially announced to employees.

Suzuki: “One of the goals of the relocation was to shrink our floor space. To that end, we reduced the amount of floor space per person. However, it wasn’t simply a matter of cutting down; we decided to distribute communication areas throughout the resulting space. In order to carry this policy out, we introduced a non-territorial office system for most departments.”

Yue: “We had observed that the non-territorial office system introduced with the 2008 office innovation was effective, so it was decided that there would be no problem expanding it to all departments.”

Suzuki: “It was a big move involving 3,000 people, so a certain amount of management was necessary. Therefore, the executive team first created innovation guidelines based on the EmpoweredOffice concept. These were passed on to each department’s relocation leader, who then shared them with regular employees. By spreading the information gradually in this way, we avoided causing a lot of confusion.”

The General Affairs Department provided overall management of the relocation project, while the Facilities Department managed the site. The Enterprise Solutions Operations Unit was also involved as a department that promotes the EmpoweredOffice concept.

Suzuki: “The relocation executive team was composed of people from three departments. With them leading the way, the project was pushed forward through the daily collaboration of 30-plus relocation project members chosen from various departments.”

 
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