State-of-the-Art Office Case Studies:

Offices Supporting Management

PwC Japan Group

Interview conducted in April 2018

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

A Leading Global Consulting Firm Puts Employees First with New State-of-the-Art Office 

Previously in our state-of-the-art office case studies, we have featured PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) Japan Group’s consolidation of several offices in a new location in 2009 and its opening of a new base in 2016. As part of its medium-term office strategy, the company has carried out several more projects since then, culminating with the opening of its new Osaka office in January 2018. With the latest phase of its office strategy now complete, we profile a number of PwC Japan Group office projects in the article below.

 

Rika Hinata

Yuko Sugiyama

Director, General Affairs
PricewaterhouseCoopers Aarata LLC

Rika Hinata

Tadashi Kato

Associate
Gensler and Associates International Ltd.

Rika Hinata

Rie Kurokawa

Interior Planner
Associate
Gensler and Associates International Ltd.

Rika Hinata

Kiyohiko Ozawa

President
Douma Co., Ltd.

Rika Hinata

Miho Nakamura

LEED AP
Associate
Gensler and Associates International Ltd.

Rika Hinata

Chie Matsushita

1stCl RA,LEED AP ID+C
Senior Associate,Design Director
Gensler and Associates International Ltd.

Break area

Otemachi / Reception

Brief Memo

  1. A Decade of Progress: The Evolution of Work Styles and Office Development
  2. Nagoya Office Leads the Way for Medium-to-Long-Term Office Project
  3. Relocating a Large Office with the Aim of Getting Closer to Customers
  4. Experience Center Created for the Purpose of Generating Innovation
  5. Osaka Office Tries New Concept for an Auditing Firm
  6. Continuing to Reform Work Styles While Improving Quality and Drawing on Past Experiences to Create Superior Workspaces

Introduction
A Decade of Progress: The Evolution of Work Styles and Office Development

During the past few years, the PwC Japan Group has renovated its Nagoya office, relocated to a new office in Otemachi, opened an Experience Center next to it, and completed the consolidation and relocation of its Osaka offices. Before presenting the details of these medium-to-long-term office projects, we will first review some previous relocation projects to clarify the Group’s approach.

In 2009, member firms and affiliates of PwC Japan (currently including PricewaterhouseCoopers Aarata LLC, PwC Advisory LLC, and PwC Consulting LLC), which had previously been located in six different offices, were consolidated at a single large-scale building in Shiodome, Chuo Ward.

The office concept at that time was based on the idea of “one integrated firm.”

Sugiyama: “The goal was to create a synergistic effect by bringing multiple companies together at a single location. While there were some fairly significant hurdles to overcome, we were able to carry out the plan.”

It took only half a year from the start of the project until the new office was occupied. The various companies involved built a consensus, then requested the collaboration of specialists. The keywords for developing the finished office were “spacious,” “unifying,” and “connecting.” It was based on the concept of a “virtual campus.”

Sugiyama: “A university campus offers various spaces to suit different purposes, such as large classrooms, small classrooms, seminar rooms, and so on, which students make use of according to their needs. We thought, ‘Why not apply the same concept to our office?’ All of the office furniture we selected was equipped with castors so that it would be easy to move around. We also made the walls movable so that we had the flexibility to change the layout. It was the first office we designed with work style reform in mind.”

Following the move, as the company’s performance improved thanks to the economy’s recovery and new personnel were recruited as a result, the Shiodome office started to become crowded. The Group therefore opened a new frontline base offering a full range of consulting services, from strategy to execution, in a recently constructed large-scale building in Marunouchi. This was in March 2016.

Sugiyama: “We chose Marunouchi as the location because we thought it would improve accessibility by public transportation. And with the idea of optimizing the use of time within the office, we decided that it would occupy a single floor.”

During the past few years, the devices used in business have changed considerably. Many companies are introducing new technologies into their offices on a regular basis. However, no matter how much they may improve the business environment, they are meaningless if employees do not actively adopt them. The PwC Japan Group’s employees make efficient use of IT tools, which help them to make valuable proposals to customers.

Ozawa: “At the time, we surveyed everyone’s work style and found that client-facing time had increased by 50% while time spent on internal administrative tasks had decreased by 50%. I’d always thought that PwC Japan was a progressive company, but the speed of its evolution has clearly accelerated. That’s what PwC’s culture is all about.”

A notable feature of the Marunouchi office was the introduction of a “concierge desk,” where staff with IT expertise provide support.

Matsushita: “I’ve been involved in office development for the PwC Japan Group for over 10 years, and the business environment has evolved with each project. We provide more sophisticated workspaces, and at some point, as a natural progression, customers begin to take these environments for granted, so the next step is to offer even more sophisticated offices. I think this cycle of evolution will always continue.”

PwC Japan has created new office environments that integrate its HR system, evaluation system, and various other elements. It was thanks to its experiences with office development over the past 10 years that it was able to successfully carry out its recent medium-to-long-term office project.

Below, we discuss each of the individual projects in turn. Like the previous relocation projects, they were supervised by general affairs director Yuko Sugiyama from PricewaterhouseCoopers Aarata LLC, with Kiyohiko Ozawa of Douma Co., Ltd. providing consulting services. Gensler and Associates International Ltd. handled all the design work.

Nagoya
Nagoya Office Leads the Way for Medium-to-Long-Term Office Project

The 350-tsubo Nagoya office was the starting point for the project. Rather than a relocation, this was an office renovation project.

Sugiyama: “Even though the Nagoya office was located inside a local landmark building on top of JR Nagoya Station, it had an image that differed from our global brand. It was therefore decided to renovate it in line with the Tokyo office. We started with the idea that this renovation project would make Nagoya a pioneer in changing the work style of an auditing firm.”

Kato: “While we were in the middle of carrying out the Nagoya project, the Otemachi relocation project was officially announced. The Nagoya office was therefore considered as the first step in planning the office strategy for the entire Group going forward.”

In September 2015, a first debriefing session was held following consultations with stakeholders.

Ozawa: “Before we joined the discussions, a project team had already been formed at the Nagoya office. They had proposed a project concept, which was very similar to what Ms. Sugiyama and our team had put together. That’s one reason why the project proceeded smoothly.”

Multiple discussions took place in order to build consensus. Finally, “Be Proud of PwC” was chosen as the office concept.

Sugiyama: “One of the ways that we develop offices is to take an idea that has already been put into practice and use it as a springboard for larger projects. An example is the Tokyo office established in 2007. We experimented with that concept at the previous Osaka office. After it received positive feedback from management, it was implemented on a larger scale at the Otemachi office. This approach helps to avoid risks of making major mistakes.”

Ozawa: “We never said a word about trying to create an office to rival the Tokyo office. We simply talked about wanting to create a comfortable office for Nagoya. As the discussions continued, everyone ended up on the same page, and next thing you know, we had created the ideal office. It makes me really happy to think that this office will influence the development of other offices in future.”

The project members were chosen with a view to striking a good balance between innovators and more conservative types, because it’s not just the final result that matters, but also the process of getting there. The project team was composed of 10 carefully selected members.

Various design proposals were made—conservative, innovative, or somewhere in between—and it was the most innovative one that was adopted.

Kato: “The proposal suggested arranging the desks in a way that leveraged the unique shape of the building.”

The biggest feature of the Nagoya office is its movable partitions, which can be rearranged like the pieces of a puzzle, making it possible to create space for the large meetings held on a regular basis. These are also intended to reflect the overlapping rectangles found on PwC’s logo. It’s a concept that seamlessly integrates design, brand, and function.

Sugiyama: “I think it’s a wonderful design that takes advantage of the building’s curved shape. Of course, it’s not just about how it looks: by making effective use of the movable partitions, we’ve also improved functionality in an area where there was considerable dissatisfaction.”

Matsushita: “The concept of a design that reflects the corporate brand really started with the Marunouchi office in Tokyo. Branding is an important factor in making the office appealing both internally and externally.”

Sugiyama: “I suppose any company with a certain amount of experience could come up with a cool office design. But other design factors had to be considered, like our brand, our work style, and our history. It’s not that easy to create a design that incorporates those elements as well.”

Kurokawa: “Of course, the design is not the only thing that matters in an office. It’s essential that it facilitates employees’ work. Before starting the design process, we always take the time to speak with employees and obtain information from a variety of perspectives.”

Kato: “This was a renovation project, not a relocation. In order to carry out the work while the office was occupied, it was divided into three blocks and things were moved around. The location of the pantry and reception changed every three weeks. Normally, each area of the Nagoya office is reserved for a specific type of work, but during the renovations, employees were free to sit wherever they liked. Looking back on it now, I think that period was good preparation for managing the Nagoya office.”

The renovations were completed in June 2016. In the 30th annual Nikkei New Office Awards, the Nagoya Office won the Chubu New Office Promotion Award.

Marunouchi / Social cafe

Marunouchi / Entrance

Nagoya / Focus Area

Nagoya / Library

 
 
 
 
 
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