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The office with diversity – a place for communicating and co-creating
OKUMURA ENGINEERING corp.
Head Office & Research Development Center
Now we are in the era of co-creation. In addition to co-creation among companies, innovation can happen among people collaborating with others from different divisions. OKUMURA ENGINEERING corp. (herein after OKM) is a valve manufacturing company established in 1902. It is the global niche top company for special valves, and their ship exhaust gas valves are boasting the world no. 1 market share.
However, in 2017, when they were trying to be a listed company, the head office was in a suburb of Shiga Prefecture. The location was not ideal because it was difficult to communicate and collaborate with companies, government, universities and institutes, and also it was difficult to obtain a good human resource in surrounding area because the location is not well-connected.
For those reasons, OKM decided to move its head office/research center to Yasu City, Shiga, where it is easy to access JR line. Today, we interviewed Mr. Shinichi Okumura, CEO of OKUMURA ENGINEERING corp. and Mr. Naokazu Senba, Executive Office and Chief of Product Development Division about their new office.
Aim for attractive Head Office/Research Center
CEO of OKUMURA ENGINEERING corp.
Valves are used for transmitting various things including gas, liquid, solid which can be either cold or hot. OKM customizes the valves suitable for clients' needs, and expects companies will demand valves that we have never created because of the promotion of SDGs and carbon neutral society. To address it, we think it is important to make an environment where we can communicate with clients easily. When we decided to relocate the head office and the research center, our focus was to build the one that makes people want to visit. Since we would like visitors to know about our company, we ordered our consultant to make an exhibition area in the new office.
Mr. Okumura: We used to decide the layouts of the office on our own, but this time we thought it is better to create a place where visitors want to be involved with us. That's why we asked Plus PM for the support.
Senba: We would like to build a brand-new office to wipe off the stereotype of a valve factory and to tell visitors that we are manufacturing valves with the state-of-the-art technology.
Executive officer of OKUMURA ENGINEERING corp.
When entering the office, you will see a reception area with high ceiling. It looks very spacious due to the vaulted ceiling, and valves made by a 3D printer are displayed on the wall. On the 2nd floor, there is the exhibition area with actual valves and explanations how valves are related to our life. The display of pipes on the ceiling was a request from an employee demonstrating how our product is used in daily life, and it has been receiving a good reputation from inside and outside of the company.
The valve displays on the wall and the pipes on the ceiling of the exhibition room
Broad in-house communication makes new innovations
Communication brings new knowledge and values, and it is not exclusive in the one outside of the office. We made an office cafeteria next to Product Development Division on the 2nd floor.
Senior consultant of Plus PM Co., Ltd.
Then, the employees, who used to be stuck in developing in their desk, began to visit the cafeteria and communicate with colleagues. In addition, by connecting the Division with the testing room through vaulted stairs, our employees are now more active to communicate with colleagues from other divisions. We have a meeting up area on the 1st floor as well.
In the cafeteria, there is a bright and open atmosphere like a coffee shop with big windows. Compared to before, more people used the cafeteria, and it is one of the places to boost communication in the office. To enhance the spaciousness of the office, we use glass as walls in the meeting up area and meeting rooms.
While we focused on making more opportunities to communicate, we also considered very much about the security. For Information Division, we built a room that is very secured yet the people can access to other divisions when needed. It was very difficult to realize to secure both spaciousness and confidentiality.
The small cafeteria and the spacious meeting room
1 year since relocation – more people from industry, government and academia visited.
Asking Mr. Okamura about the original target to exchange more with people outside the company, Mr. Okamura answered as below;
Mr. Okamura: In fact, the communication with people outside the company has increased. We have various visitors from industry, government and academia, and kick-off meetings and progress checking meetings are held here. I feel the quality of the communication and collaboration with them got a lot better. The company collaborates with many universities such as the University of Shiga Prefecture for research and development.
Mr. Senba: We have more visitors, and at the same time, now it is easier for us to go out as well.
Creating new value on SDGs and Diversity in the office
Nowadays, Diversity is a big theme in the society. Companies need to create the opportunity and environment that people with different backgrounds accept each other based on the SDGs' philosophy that nobody is left out.
Mr. Okamura: We installed accessible bathrooms on each floor. At first there was an opinion to install it only on the 1st floor, but we thought it is not convenient if a user needs to go down every time he/she uses. If there is an accessible bathroom on each floor, not only wheelchair users, but also people who need bigger bathroom due to illness and people with gender incongruence can also use it. In our company we try to create an environment that suits anyone, and established SDGs Promote Committee and are dedicating to the local society by reduction of CO2 and cleaning at Biwako Lake.
OKM is planning to invite all the employees to the unveiling party of the new office which is postponed due to Covid-19 and to have a tour for local elementary school students.
Mr. Senba explaining the products in the exhibition room
At last, Mr. Okumura talked about Plus PM.
Mr. Okamura: We rarely have construction plans, so we don't have know-how in our company. Plus PM supported us to make our concept more concrete to realize it. As a consultant, they advised on points which we never have noticed such as the place of doorknobs and proper size of the bathroom. Thanks to them, we completed the project without any worries.
From the project manager
Realizing the feeling
While we were supporting OKM for 2 years from the planning phase to handover, the mission of Plus PM was realizing the feeling of OKM towards their new office/research center. To make it comes true, we started to find what is their exact feeling by drawing a plan and making documents. Our tasks are visualizing the abstract matters, suggesting the method to realize the project within their budget and managing the project. In this project, the passionate feeling that OKM has towards the project really motivated me, and I learned a lot through the project.
OKUMURA ENGINEERING corp.
Head Office & Research Development Center
|Client||OKUMURA ENGINEERING corp.|
|Locations||Yasu City, Shiga|
|No. of Storey||4 storeys|
|CM(PM)||Plus PM Co., Ltd.|
|Design supervision||Nakano Corporation Osaka Regional Office|
|Contractor||Nakano Corporation Osaka Regional Office|
|Construction period||November 2019– Octobar 2020|