For the Tokyo-based team at SmartCheckout Inc., flexibility and ease of communication in the workplace are key. Starting with SmartCheckout’s people, for whom work-life balance is paramount, these overarching values flow through to workplace culture and ultimately company productivity.
SmartCheckout offers tech-based payment services solutions, with ease-of-use and security in mind. The company’s recent relocation to a new office in the Otemachi Building (located in central Tokyo) has not only been pivotal in achieving greater flexibility and interpersonal exchange, but it has also enabled behavioural evolution to support that shift.
Perhaps most interestingly, the transition to this new working style did not require complex change-management, nor extensive workplace strategising. Instead, it fell to the workplace solutions – an array of agile office place furniture, and a sophisticated selection of task chairs (each picked out by the individual who would use it).
As SmartCheckout Representative Director, Mr. Yusuke Tamai explains, he had a very “firm vision” for the relocation of the headquarters. He was not looking to create a working style that clearly separated ‘on’ and ‘off’, rather one that blended the two – a work-life culture that moved seamlessly between work, relax and play.
Mr. Tamai is a firm believer that one’s best productivity is achieved by giving oneself the space needed to decompress, before coming back with fresh solutions and good ideas. “I think [this leads] to improved productivity,” he says. Not to mention, a stronger sense of belonging within a team culture context.
The Central PLAZA
Central to SmartCheckout’s new space is the Plaza setting – a social zone beloved by all team members. Here, Mr. Tamai can often be found sitting on the Tuxedo Sofas, relaxing and enjoying a serendipitous ‘run-in’ with other staff members. Individuals often peel off from their daily work tasks to lounge back, switch off and enjoy some downtime, before returning to work. It is a no-pressure zone that cultivates equality and casual interaction among team members.
From Seat to Stand: An Individual Approach
When it came to selecting furniture solutions for the new office space, Mr. Tamai cites ‘the chair’ as being central to the scheme. It was only natural that, “at the time of relocation, each employee visited Herman Miller’s showroom to choose their favourite chair,” says Mr. Tamai. “Each employee chose a chair that combined functionality and design.” Perhaps due to the combination of good design and superior aesthetics, “what I feel most is that they use [their chairs] with attachment,” expresses Mr. Tamai.
A major evolution for SmartCheckout has been its transition to the Augment Ratio height-adjustable desking system, along with the Optimis Counter Table. These additions have been game-changing for all team members. As Mr. Tamai notes, the advantage of Augment Ratio is that you can transition from sitting to standing, depending on your mood and more importantly, your physical condition.
A Point of Pride
All-in-all, the range of seating and desking solutions – chosen because they are adaptable to individual needs and, thanks to good design, aesthetically appealing for all – have been critical in shifting SmartCheckout’s office place culture to one of better engagement, higher productivity and improved individual happiness.
“In a nutshell, everyone is proud to work in their office,” says Mr. Tamai. “I feel that communication within the team has become easier.” Also assisted by Mr. Tamai moving his desk to the very centre of the office, where he can mingle with his team in a very relaxed and approachable manner.
He also notes an increased sense of transparency between team members, which has led to a more collaborative approach to knowledge-sharing and problem solving.
From an office that hindered face-to-face time, SmartCheckout has shifted to an atmosphere where social and work interactions feel natural and supported. Employees who work at the Public Office Landscape stations can easily be approached by colleagues asking, “Do you have a minute?”
As one team member, Ms. Erika Furuya, describes: “It’s easier to talk to everyone, to say something like ‘hey’, even if you don’t [linger]. Also, it’s easier to communicate, so I think my productivity has improved, and I feel everyone is [better focused]. The chair is [comfortable] and convenient, so I feel productivity is increasing.”