As the weather began to warm up and the beautiful cherry blossom season arrived, the head office of GLOBIS, in Tokyo, moved into a new building. The building itself is new, twice the size of the old office, with five floors of 826 square meters each. On the occasion of the move today, a great many Moth Orchid and potted plants have been delivered and are adorning the new office.
I'll briefly explain each floor. On the first floor are the hall and a lounge that can accommodate 180 people. The ceiling is 4 meters high and looks spectacular. Part of the ceiling has been cut out to allow an internal staircase up to the second floor. On the second floor there are six classrooms and three rooms for group study sessions. You can easily imagine students studying here. On the third floor there is a library for students as well as a space for faculty (lecturers). The third to fifth floors are dedicated to business operations, and there is also an internal staircase connecting these floors, meaning people can freely come and go. On the fourth floor is something I call the "Magnet Space," where employees can drink coffee and read magazines.
On the fifth floor is the venture capital department where I can be found. Starting today, our external name will change from Apax Globis Partners (AGP) to Globis Capital Partners (GCP). At last, we have begun to move forward as an independent fund.
In terms of the entire office, the windows are large and let in a lot of light, which is really pleasant. Looking out of the window, one is almost dazzled by the intense colors of the cherry blossoms that come into view. It almost seems as if the large patch of cherry blossoms at a mansion in front of this building is some kind of borrowed scenery. It is such a joy; I never imagined it would be so beautiful.
We are also making thorough use of IT. All areas are covered by a wireless LAN, so employees can access information from anywhere in the building. Students can also freely access the Internet in the lounge and the library. The office is all IP telephone-equipped. Each floor has videoconference facilities for conducting conferences with Nagoya, Osaka and overseas. We have introduced card security, so basically the office and campus environment makes full use of the latest IT technology.
Some aspects, however, remain the same. For example, there is no president's room and no partitions, and every level of staff, from temp to managing director, have the same size desk and chair. The same is true at Intel, according to a friend who works there.
Indeed, the open atmosphere has not changed. There are internal staircases within the office, there are areas where staff members can congregate, and enjoy beverages freely. I got this idea from the Bloomberg office. I've seen it myself; Bloomberg emphasizes an open office and a flat corporate culture.
I read in a case study at HBS (Harvard Business School) of a real example in which a creative company lost its ingenuity the moment it was divided into two floors, which formed two different organizational cultures. To avoid this happening in my company, I thought long and hard about creating an open atmosphere in the office.
In order to accomplish these things on some level, I compiled a document a few years ago, entitled, "Guidelines for Improving the Office Environment." It included the following information:
The GLOBIS Group believes the quality of its office environment affects our personnel's mindset, our corporate culture of respecting creativity and our productivity—each of which are crucial to our success. Therefore, we have formulated these guidelines as the minimum requirements for creating a comfortable office environment where everyone can work easily and happily.
(1) We create an open concept office environment conducive to the free flow of light, air and people. To this end, we do not, in principle, install any partitions or separate rooms.
(2) We employ a simple, intuitive office layout which draws upon basic designs and uses plants, glass, wood-tone colors and pictures, while minimizing the use of different colors.
(The rest is omitted)
This is not Chinese feng shui, but I think the ideal environment is an open one in which no stagnation can develop, where light, air and people can move about freely. I attempted to reach this ideal in creating this office through a process of trial and error. What was particularly difficult was negotiating with the real estate agent to cut out part of the ceiling. Under the Fire Defense Law, the openings of the internal staircases on each floor were required to have an automatic shutter installed. This increased the overall cost, and needless to say, it will cost a lot of money to eventually restore them to their original state. Even so, I went ahead with this plan.
At the quarterly all staff meeting that afternoon, I stated the following:
"When we first started out and moved from one room in an apartment in Sangenjaya to a 66-square-meter office in Kojimachi, I was overjoyed at how spacious it felt. Four years later, we moved into a new building with 248 square meters per floor, and I felt like we had really moved up in the world. After that, we welcomed the new millennium in January 2000 in an office expanded by twice the size.
"And now, another four years and three months have passed. I think the building we are in now reflects the prominence that GLOBIS has achieved for itself. I want everyone to utilize this office to their heart's content, and to press on toward the next step."
If you are in Bancho in Kojimachi, please drop in. From Shinjuku Street up along Nippon Television Street, go up the hill, and we are in the new black building on the left. :-)