Leveraging Corporate Strengths to Solve Problems of People in Trouble
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People Disappeared from Offices Immediately after New Location Opening. . .
A Pressing Need for Rapid and Drastic Change
Think Lab G General Manager, JINS JP (Japan Division)
I have been in charge of the Think Lab space rental project as a new business of JINS. We opened Think Lab Shiodome for office workers in February 2020 while also preparing for the opening of Think Lab Ginza, through collaboration with Starbucks, which was scheduled for July. Unfortunately, however, there was a sharp increase in coronavirus cases, particularly in Tokyo, immediately after we opened our Shiodome location. That altered the traditional style of traveling to the office to work, and we had to totally reconsider our past strategy and future vision. A sense of impending crisis struck my team and me. The JINS headquarters also adopted teleworking as a general rule, but many staff members complained that they were unable to focus on their work at home or that their children prevented them from going into work mode. Realizing that such complaints reflected a new social problem to be addressed right away, we decided to launch a new project with the idea of offering our Think Lab know-how to solve some of the numerous challenges of teleworking.
Our past approach was basically for improving the score of the work environment from 70 to a perfect 100, but we shifted the view of our challenge toward seeking a way to improve the score from near zero to 40. Of course, that was a sudden and drastic transition, but the strength of Think Lab had always been its ability to create a place to concentrate. I thought that our capabilities would be useful to improve the score, whether from 70 to 100 or from zero to 40.
Offering Take-home “Space for Concentration” with Added Story
Think Lab HOME is a study space for teleworking equipped with the functions of a desk.
It is actually based on an offhand suggestion of our CEO. Just before the state of emergency was declared, I was talking with him about our new business when he said, “From now on, goods will move instead of people, and everything will be made to be taken out. I wonder if we can commercialize Think Lab as a work cubicle for home delivery.” Our CEO is originally a sensory thinker, but the more things change, his imagination gets wilder and wilder with increased adrenaline, and he comes up with ideas that nobody can even think of lol.
I agreed, “That’s it!” And we moved forward with the project at a fast pace from there. What we focused on first was the selection of materials. We wanted to make something inexpensive, yet of high quality for the price. We also wanted to make something that will benefit the world. Therefore, we considered using recycled-paper cardboard, which has a low environmental impact and will not end up as incombustible trash. And, after finding its manufacturing factory by searching through various channels and discussing the product concept with our designer, we finally completed the product in about four months.
Our next challenge was sales strategy planning. In order to have more companies take an interest in collaborating with Think Lab, I decided that I would make myself an opinion leader for “new ways of working”—although it certainly was a very intuitive strategy. So, I spent the whole May holiday period writing a stack of articles on “post-coronavirus work styles” and uploaded them to the “note” media platform. My articles were quoted by various media, and I received increasing requests to make suggestions on how we should work in the new era of teleworking. Although Think Lab is only a small start-up business, I think we successfully provoked the interest of many people and developed excellent partnerships with client companies by adding the story of “new ways of working” to a product to be needed in the age to come.
Leveraging Strengths to Solve Problems
and Offering New Ways of Working for People in Trouble
Our future goal is to nurture Think Lab HOME into one particular product category. We hope to enhance its brand value as a “smart study room” so that we eventually become a category killer with this product. For this purpose, we are also planning to develop its peripheral products such as chairs, lamps, and speakers.
Not only that, to cope with the movement of people from business districts to commuter suburbs, we are thinking about creating suburban Think Lab locations closer to their homes. Although it may vary among individuals, there must be a lot of people who are stressed or troubled by working at home. I do see some of my colleagues actually at a loss, and that’s what motivates me to do something to solve the problem.
This project originally began out of a sense of crisis, but now I see it as an opportunity.
We will enter a new era in which individuals may choose their respective workplaces, moving out of the era in which company offices were the only workplaces for employees where they could not choose their own spaces, desks, or chairs. If so, our supply of comfortable spaces for concentration, which people may want to choose as their personal workplaces, will eventually help us present our core competence. In that sense, the current situation, as well as the future world with no coronavirus risks, serve as nothing but a spur for our company—while we have to face a headwind for the time being, since we already made capital investments in business districts. I would say I’m half happy and half worried lol.
However, now that I promote this project as a new business of the JINS HOLDINGS, I think it is important that we look at things from a mid to long-term perspective and shift our gears in a flexible manner. I think I am really fortunate that there are seeds within our company to properly respond to social challenges and needs at hand, and that we are able to seriously tackle those issues as an organization.