State-of-the-Art Office Case Studies:

Offices Supporting Management

TripAdvisor Japan

Interview conducted in February 2016

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

Introducing facilities and measures aimed at keeping employees healthy by addressing lack of exercise, etc.

Bouldering wall

Bouldering wall

The office windows offer the kind of impressive view that only a skyscraper can, and with the mood varying according to the turning of the seasons or the time of day (sunrise, sunset, night view, etc.), the viewer never tires of looking at it. Combined with the interior design, which has an open feel due to the extensive use of glass walls, the effect is to create a comfortable environment for employees to work in. In the old office, only one wall had windows and, what’s more, the air-conditioning was not very effective, so there were marked differences in temperature depending on where one was sitting. In the new office, the building is equipped with new facilities, and the air-conditioning has improved greatly.

“In order to create a work-friendly environment, it’s also essential to consider employees’ health,” notes Hinata. “With that in mind, we installed a bouldering wall in one corner of the office and set aside an area for stretching, and we’ve introduced easy-to-use exercise equipment inside the office as well as facilities for relaxing, such as hammocks.”

Stretch area

Stretch area

Bouldering is a type of free-style rock climbing that involves clambering up a vertical wall using only your hands and feet. It was originally performed on natural rock surfaces, but in urban areas, artificial walls with numerous holds protruding from them are used instead. In recent years, more and more companies have been adopting them; some are little more than simple decorations included for design purposes, but in the case of TripAdvisor, it is an actual bouldering wall strong enough to support the weight of a full-grown man. There is both a vertical wall and a wall overhanging at an angle, with a mat laid down at the foot of the wall to prevent falling accidents.

“We’re making an effort to implement safety measures for people who actually use the wall, like having beginners receive guidance from experienced boulderers at the company. When it comes to measures that address employees’ lack of exercise, besides facilities like this, we’ve also organized activities such as inviting a yoga instructor to give workshops at the company,” explains Hinata.

During one’s day-to-day work, long hours working in the same posture can result in back or shoulder pain. Therefore, at TripAdvisor Japan, employees are allowed to change location from their own (assigned) desk in the work area and work in another place of their choosing, such as the break area adjoining the pantry or an empty conference room. What’s more, personal desks are adjustable-height desks whose desktops can be raised or lowered as desired using a single switch.

“If you’re tired of sitting all the time, you can make the desktop higher and stand up to do your work,” says Hinata. “Finding adjustable-height desks wasn’t easy, but I think it was worth the trouble. We’ve also introduced exercise balls that people can sit on to relax and help improve their concentration.”

Adjustable-height desk

Adjustable-height desk

Establishing a welcoming office for customers that projects a positive image to people outside the company

The break area with pantry is located in a position that is connected to the work area and conference room area. It was situated here in order to encourage diverse interactions between employees and people from outside the company. The pantry is fully stocked with coffee and other drinks as well as various snack foods, so the area is used to hold casual meetings while enjoying some refreshments.

“There are two kinds of coffee machine—an espresso maker and a machine that uses pods—as well as vending machines that provide tea, juice, etc. to employees free of charge. There’s also a selection of sweets, dried fruits, and cut fruit, while cornflakes and the like are available for breakfast. What’s more, one evening a month, we also hold what we call a ‘happy hour,’ where employees have the chance to drink alcohol in the office,” explains Hinata.

Free space

Free space

This kind of fully equipped office environment is standard at TripAdvisor locations around the world—there are some branches in other countries that even have beer and wine dispensers. The Boston head office, where there are 5,000 employees working, has a dedicated in-house chef who provides a proper cooked meal every day.

“The head office reviewed matters such as the rent per tsubo and location in detail, but when it came to the design, they basically left it up to us to do as we liked,” comments Hinata. “The sales team has told us the new office is a more welcoming environment for customers. It’s also easy to move around from place to place, and no matter who visits the office, we can be proud of the design. It has been well received, and the office projects a positive image to people outside the company.”

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