Hello everyone, this is Tomomi Kikumoto, HR Manager at HACARUS. Today I would like to share some information about our new company office in Shirahama.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have been changing the way that they perform work, such as teleworking. This includes HACARUS, which has encouraged teleworking since March of 2020. Teleworking is great, but it also made me a little sad since I wasn’t able to see any of my colleagues for over a year. During this time, we all tried to find creative ways to stay in touch with each other. While this was happening, HACARUS also continued to grow, adding both full-time employees and interns to the team. Since the beginning of the COVID outbreak in Japan back in March 2020, around 20 new members have joined the team.
Another big change for HACARUS during the pandemic was the opening of our new Shirahama satellite office in Wakayama Prefecture in February of 2021.
Shirahama- Why HACARUS Choose this Area as a Workaction Destination
Before the spread of corona, HACARUS didn’t have a system for working remotely. It might be more accurate to say that we had never even considered working from home. At the office, we believed that it was best to work in an environment where we could communicate face-to-face. Since we had a team of about 40 full-time employees, it seemed essential for efficient communication.
Even with this mindset, we had to hastily implement a remote work system under the influence of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the beginning, the system was implemented half-heartedly, and the management team was a bit concerned. They were worried about staying up-to-date with the progress of their teams, effectively communicating as a team, and reaching out when help is needed.
With no end in sight for the pandemic and a vague sense of anxiety about how long this situation would continue, I was wondering if there was any way to break through this atmosphere. Like magic, I received an invitation from the Wakayama Prefectural Government about inviting companies to the town of Shirahama.
After a lot of deliberation and looking at the offer from various angles, we choose to accept the invitation. We made our decision based on the generous support that Wakayama Prefecture and the town of Shirahama offered for establishing the office. As an added bonus, the sandy-white beach is only a ten-minute walk from the office!
Providing our Employees a Space to Forget their Daily Lives and Immerse Themselves in Discussion
Moving into the new office has been a good change of pace, and it has been my job to decorate the interior of the building. I thought for a long time about what I wanted to do in the office. On one hand, I thought that it was important to create an environment where everyone could concentrate on their work. This would feel just like our Kyoto and Tokyo offices. On the other hand, this space is meant to be a getaway from our everyday lives, so it should encourage creativity and team discussions. Shirahama is surrounded by the ocean, mountains, and abundant nature, so I began to think about how to incorporate this into the design.
I ended up choosing a work retreat theme for the decor. I also bounced ideas off of our CEO, Kenshin Fujiwara. Kenshin really enjoys camping in his free time, so we decided to turn the office furniture into camping gear. The floor is also entirely covered with artificial grass, to simulate being in nature.
After things settle down, and work-life returns to normal, I would like to hold some development and team camps here at the Shirahama office.
Creating a Friendly Working Environment and Visiting Rules for our Employees
Even though it is exciting to open a new office, it might seem a bit senseless to some of our employees. Traveling from the Kyoto headquarters to the Shirahama office takes around two and a half hours. Even though the distance is a bit far, it is important to establish a suitable environment and rules to encourage our employees to visit and work in the Shirahama office. After careful consideration, these are the rules we have come up with:
- With proper notice, employees can visit or work at the Shirahama office any time without any restriction on the period of stay.
- Employees and their families are free to use company housing provided for free.
- All transportation costs are covered by the company.
- HACARUS will partially cover the costs of social events in Shirahama.
Our goal is to provide our employees with a friendly working environment without restricting them too much.
Anyways, this is where we are currently at for the Shirahama office. I hope that you found this article interesting and I will keep you updated about future events.