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."
A progressive office culture making effective use of space through measures such as shared personal lockers
The purpose of the reorganization of the PwC Japan Group* that was behind the construction of the Marunouchi office was to offer clients more highly specialized services that would reliably ensure a competitive advantage on the global market. It was essential to have stronger-than-ever collaboration with the PwC Global Network and establish the image of a powerful professional team. To achieve this, an environment was needed that would make employees' day-to-day work a platform for continuing to innovate at an even faster rate.
*PwC Japan Group represents the member firms of the PwC global network in Japan and their subsidiaries. Each firm of PwC Japan Group undertakes its business as an independent and separate corporate entity. To address complex and diversified business challenges, PwC Japan Group consolidates expertise of assurance, deal advisory, consulting, tax and legal services as well as enhances its structure in order to cooperate organically.
Visit the following URL for a press release explaining the reorganization: http://www.pwc.com/jp/en/japan-press-room/press-release/2016/pwcjapan-organization160201.html
Ozawa: "Even before the Shiodome office, I've always thought that PwC Japan was very progressive among Japanese businesses, and since it moved to Shiodome, the speed with which it evolves has clearly accelerated. It seems that a major factor in this was the implementation of a shared one-company culture throughout the entire organizations thanks to the 2009 integration and relocation."
Introducing new technology or moving office are typical examples of measures undertaken by all kinds of companies every day--but even if the surrounding work environment changes thanks to such measures, it means nothing unless the employees are able to independently and proactively make effective use of its benefits. In the case of PwC, making full use of the new environment leads to new services and offerings.
When PwC Japan integrated its operations during the previous move to the Shiodome office, Ozawa notes that he felt the idea of using the new environment's benefits seemed to be rather conceptual. However, at the new office, thanks to the evolution of the organizational culture, he believes the employees are strategically, practically, and instinctively able to make effective use of the new environment's benefits.
Amano: "In terms of the design concept, by combining various elements in an integrated, multi-layered manner, we aimed to create an office where you can feel a sense of depth, of history, of the business's scope. There are new discoveries to be made in each area, and these were designed to be understood intuitively, rather than theoretically."
With regard to functionality, Amano notes that PwC is already a step ahead of its contemporaries when it comes to the basic thinking around offices.
Amano: "That's why I believe PwC Japan is a group of extremely cutting-edge professionals. At both the management level and the level of individual players, it's made up of forward-thinking personnel. And because that's the kind of people they are, I'm sure they'll be able to take full advantage of this office's benefits."
The company's unique way of using the office is exemplified by its approach to storage, says Amano. While its reservation system for meeting rooms and the like also makes effective use of sophisticated technology, it was the personal locker-based storage system that particularly impressed him.
Ozawa: "Usually, when you talk about personal lockers, you assume that one locker is provided for each employee. But as the number of staff increases, you will need quite a lot of space just for lockers alone. They have resolved this problem with a really unique concept--a system of 'sharing' personal lockers. The actual inspiration for this came from the members' lockers you often see at golf courses or spa facilities, which are managed using an ID system."
Sugiyama: "Since all staff members are not necessarily working in the office all the time, we thought it would be good if the people who are there could use the lockers of people who aren't there. As a measure to prevent problems like people losing their key or forgetting their code, staff ID passes are used to open the lockers."
It's not just lockers: employee IDs are used to manage the use of all fixtures and devices at the Marunouchi office. In addition to facilitating matters as much as possible from both a management and user perspective, this is intended to reduce costs such as labor expenses. Employing "flexicurity" (i.e., a combination of flexibility and security) when implementing measures has enabled an office management system that operates in a more professional manner.
Sugiyama: "Another significant benefit of the ID passes is that their logs can be managed. What's more, in this office, we've introduced a concierge desk system for the first time. This enables employees to receive virtual support for IT device-related office tasks, such as setting up a teleconference, from young staff who have expertise in IT and electronic devices. We had already come up with this concept at the Shiodome office, but it had to be abandoned for various reasons. This time, we were able to make it work."
Achieving diversity by switching from an ownership mentality to a membership mentality
The virtual support introduced at the Marunouchi office is handled by homeworkers who are in their forties or older and have returned to work after a period of maternity or parental leave. In Japan, this system has just started, but it has already been in place at PwC US for five or six years.
Sugiyama: "In setting up the new office, we focused on creating an office that was truly open to diversity. In Japan, when you talk about diversity in the workplace, it tends to be limited to the idea of providing more opportunities for women, but fundamentally, I think it means adopting an approach that is willing to accept a wide range of ideas, even those that are unpopular. It's important to act based on ideas that make sense, rather than ideas that are popular."
The office, says Sugiyama, is an important key to achieving this.
Sugiyama: "To help us find the right office, Sanko Estate prepared documents that met our needs and regularly provided us with information over an extended period of time."
She also speaks about the importance of a membership mentality.
Sugiyama: "The moment that people start insisting they want personal lockers to be provided for them, you are confronted with an ownership mentality. While the locker-sharing system is partly down to reasons of space, it was assumed that sharing would also have the effect of instilling a membership mentality. That mentality means that staff will have a greater awareness of themselves as true heirs to PwC's DNA that has been established over the years."
Ozawa: "Diversity is a word that's used a lot, but there are still not many places where it has actually been achieved like at PwC. What's more, the company has achieved a level of perfection with its system that allows it to be supplied directly to customers as is. That's why I honestly believe the employees at PwC are amazing."
In June 2015, the PwC Global Network was selected for IMPACT 10x10x10, an initiative of UN Women (a United Nations organization dedicated to achieving gender equality and women's empowerment). Worldwide, ten heads of state (including Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe), ten universities (including Nagoya University), and ten companies (including PwC) were chosen to participate in this project to promote women's empowerment as part of the HeForShe campaign.
Sugiyama: "Even today, I still clearly recall hearing the phrase 'Be Proud of PwC' on my first day at the company. That's why I want people to see themselves as members of the PwC global network well recognized worldwide, and I will try to pass that idea on to new colleagues who join the company in future."