Are offices obsolete!? The new office in the age of the new normal

PayPay moved to a new office in September . It is a new office in the new normal era, with a completely different way of thinking and making. This time, Mr. Wataru Horikita, General Affairs Department, who was in charge of launching the new office, explained what kind of aim and function the office is full of charm.


The new office is located on the 21st floor of the “Kamiyacho Trust Tower”, which has direct access from the Tokyo Metro Kamiyacho Station. The entire floor is dedicated to PayPay, with a close-up view of Tokyo Tower from the windows. PayPay and WeWork Japan LLC began designing the office together around May this year, completing it in September.​​​​​​​​​​​​

Walking through the door, the first thing that meets the eye is the support desk. This is where employees first stop-by to take their temperature when they arrive at the office. The support desk also receives mail on behalf of employees working from home.

Employees at PayPay generally work from home, so they don’t have their own seat in the new office (neither are there seats for the CEO or executives!). That’s why we have lockers for hundreds of people to store their valuables when they come to the office. The lockers can be opened and closed with the WeWork card key that employees carry.​​​

Wataru Horikita explaining the locker

Walking past the lockers, there comes all kinds of tables, sofas, and chairs in every imaginable size! Some of the sofas can seat up to 10 people. The colorful line-up of furniture makes it exciting to think about where to sit.​​

This is the area that is referred to as the “Community & Social” area, an open space where employees can relax and chat. It can be used for a variety of purposes, such as having business meetings or lunch with colleagues. As a trade-off with eliminating fixed seating throughout the office, the amount of open space has been increased to encourage communication between employees.

Walking further down amongst the colorful furniture, there appears a “desk work” area with desks and chairs. There is no fixed seating here as well, so anyone in the office can use it as they see fit. Each table is equipped with a monitor, since this area is designed for those who wish to concentrate on their desk work.​​

“Desk work” area

What makes this office unique is that, unlike a traditional office, each person has more space! As a COVID-19 measure, the number of seats has been reduced – there is a 2m distance between chairs and other furniture, all across the office. There’s so much space, the team could probably play catch between the furniture…!

The number of seats in the entire office has been reduced to 25% of the previous office, so as to keep within the 25% attendance limit. The generous amount of surrounding space makes it easier to concentrate on the work at hand.​​​​

As an additional COVID-19 measure, everything is sanitized every 2 hours and the desks are cleaned over night to create a “clean, safe and secure office at all times”.​​

Exit to the hallway and cut across to the other side of the floor – there awaits a space where employees can engage in deep conversation.

The “active collaboration” area is equipped with a giant screen, speakers and webcam, not to mention a whiteboard, which allows employees in the office to connect with those working from home. Since the maximum attendance in the office is kept within 25%, many employees are working from home. Hence the setup to allow seamless discussion between those who come to the office and those who are at home.​​​​

“Active Collaboration” area

For those who wish to talk in a closed environment, the conference rooms in the “Learning” area are available. Here also, each room is equipped with a large monitor to facilitate online connectivity. Also, rooms that had a capacity of 10 now only allow for 3 to ensure social distancing. In this way, all conference rooms have a spacious setup as well.​​​​

Meeting room in the “learning” area

Due to the social distance, the rooms that had a capacity of 10 people are now 3, so all of the rooms are spacious. Anyone can use the rooms by making a reservation online. There are also small rooms called “phone-booths” where secret phone calls can be made or where sensitive matters that should not be overheard can be discussed. These booths are available to anyone and do not require any reservations.

Wataru Horikita entering the “phone booth”

There are a number of small treats as well – free drinks including coffee servers naturally, but there is also a beer server available in the WeWork community space for drinks later in the evening! Later-on into the night, the view is stunning – a small reward for working late.​​

At night, you can see the beautifully lit Tokyo Tower

Behind the scenes, the “new PayPay office” that was discussed was initially just an office with a bunch of desks and chairs, the only difference being that it was not fixed seating.​​

And yet, after repeated discussions that included the CEO about what the “purpose is of coming into the office?”, the decision was made that the office was ready for a complete revamp.

Under the new workstyle, “Work from Anywhere at Any Time” that was introduced in September, close to all employees switched to working from home. The conclusion that was reached after the repeated discussions about “so – why do we need an office again?” with various people was, was that the office is “a place where everyone gathers to create new value.”​​​

This is why the new office has more open space, making it easier for employees to communicate with each other. Working from home is fine when what is required is quiet. But because the current workstyle makes it difficult to communicate with team members, because it makes each other less visible, that’s why the office was designed with the intent to make it the “the place (office) that enables creating top value” at least when everyone can get together. The idea here is to do away with fixed seating and for people to convene instead in a lively, bustling environment to actively discuss and create things, since it isn’t as though everyone comes into the office every day.

An open space where employees can communicate with each other

Of course, since there are a variety of areas provided including quiet spaces and conference rooms, it’s possible to choose the optimal work space.

In addition, 8 satellite offices, including Tokyo Station, Shibuya and Yokohama, as well as community areas in over 30 WeWork offices across 6 cities in Japan have become available to employees. These offices can be used freely as long as a reservation is made, and are open to employees who may not be able to work from home for various reasons.​​​​​​​​​​

The journey of the new office & satellite offices has only just begun. Data will be collected on which offices, which areas are most popular, including actual feedback from employees to make things even better. This is also in line with PayPay’s culture of speed and improvement. Wouldn’t it be great to build an office – as a team – which makes you look forward to coming into the office whether it’s once a week of once a month!​​

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Editor: daiki (PayPay Inside-Out Editorial Team)

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