A Private Workspace in Train Stations
by Akito Okabe
Do you know what these strange boxes are that have been popping up across train stations in Japan?
They are private workspaces made for one person and are used for various situations, such as when you have spare time while going out and about, or when you need to hold a quick web conference. These workspaces can also be used not only for work, but also for reading, studying, etc.
This article introduces a unique approach to manage privacy needs in Japan, where these facilities inside stations have become well developed.
Background: Diversification of Work Styles
Japan is facing a "decline in the working-age population due to the falling birth rate and aging population" and greater "workforce need diversification, such as balancing work with childcare and nursing care.1” In order to solve these problems, Japan has been striving to create a society where people can choose various ways to work so that each individual can have a better vision of his or her future.1 Against this backdrop, telework, a flexible work style that is not restricted by location, has been gaining attention as a part of corporate work style reforms. In addition, in recent years, the spread of coronavirus infections has restricted people's mobility and discouraged them from coming to the office, resulting in a rapid acceleration of telework.
On the other hand, there are challenges in promoting telework. In particular, in Japan, unlike in the U.S., due to the small size of houses, many disincentives are cited, such as the lack of dedicated workspaces, and the inability to concentrate due to the close proximity of family members. In addition, although it is not impossible to work in cafes, there are still inconveniences such as the lack of available seats, inability to concentrate due to noise, and inability to do highly confidential work within view of others. Companies in various industries are devising ways to solve these problems. While private workspace set-up in train stations are described in this article, there are many other initiatives being launched by companies, such as hotels and karaoke bars offering plans for telework stays.
Overview of Private Workspaces
In Japan, train stations are not just a place to catch a train or make a connection, but also a place where you can do many things, such as going to eating and drinking establishments, pharmacies, convenience stores, and many other commercial facilities. Private workspaces are also a unique feature of Japan's well-developed stations, and several companies are currently producing them. CocoDesk is one such workspace, and is a joint project between Tokyo Metro Co., Ltd. and FUJIFILM Business Innovation Corp.
The installation of CocoDesk booths started in February 2020 and are currently underway mainly in subway stations. They are 51 inches wide, 39 inches deep, and 83 inches high, making them large enough to be used comfortably.
In addition, the room is equipped with power outlets and Wi-Fi for mobile devices, and the temperature can be adjusted by the air conditioner, so you can make phone calls or prepare documents without worrying about your surroundings. Moreover, a ventilation fan is in place along with all items covered with an antibacterial coating, so even if you are wary of the coronavirus, you can use it having peace of mind.
The service hours are from 7:00 to 22:00, and the fee is approximately 2.50 USD per 15 minutes, so users can freely choose the time of use according to their purposes.
Post-pandemic, teleworking is expected to take root to a certain extent, and I believe it is important for the government and companies to continue to work together to create an environment that facilitates teleworking.
Tokyo Metro has announced that it will continue to install CocoDesk booths in stations and will consider various initiatives to make stations more convenient and comfortable to use as a part of business and daily life in order to more closely match customers' various ways of working.2
Why don't you experience this unique service when you visit Japan?
※CocoDesk is a registered trademark or trademark of FUJIFILM Business Innovation Corp.
1.Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare website
2. Tokyo Metro Co.,Ltd. press release