Uniqlo's new corporate headquarters are flipping Japanese work culture on its head

Fast Retailing, the parent company of Uniqlo, has opened a new headquarters that feature open-plan office spaces with lots of lounge areas, plants and a library to keep employees comfortable. While these elements might sound commonplace for a creative business in the West, the layout is a first for a corporate office in Japan, as Co.Design reports.

Japan has long maintained a traditional corporate work culture that Fast Retailing is hoping to disrupt. Where the West is known for encouraging employees to take risks and be independent, Japanese work culture has more of a collective mentality with deep respect for elders and superiors.

The space, which is located in Ariake, a waterfront district in Tokyo, has a footprint similar in size to a New York City block that includes a new distribution center, a Uniqlo showroom and offices. Allied Works, the architecture company behind the space, wanted to ensure that employees felt a sense of freedom in the office. They incorporated both public and private space to increase the chance of employees running into each other, which has been proven to result in new ideas.

After completing the project, Allied Works wondered if employees would be slow to adopt a new office culture. To help employees acclimatize to the new space, Fast Retailing held a number of internal training sessions so that they understood what they space was trying to do and to let them know that they had permission to work wherever they liked.

The offices, which opened earlier this year, have so far been a success. Employees move around the space and are no longer feel confined to a specific area. It’s possible the downsides of an open-office space, such as noise and lower levels of concentration, might become an annoyance to employees once the novelty wears off. So far, employees seem to be embracing the change.

Fast Retailing

Fast Retailing, the parent company of Uniqlo, has opened a new headquarters that feature open-plan office spaces with lots of lounge areas, plants and a library to keep employees comfortable. While these elements might sound commonplace for a creative business in the West, the layout is a first for a corporate office in Japan, as Co.Design reports.

Japan has long maintained a traditional corporate work culture that Fast Retailing is hoping to disrupt. Where the West is known for encouraging employees to take risks and be independent, Japanese work culture has more of a collective mentality with deep respect for elders and superiors.