Redefining The Role of "Place"
The Socializing Office
The pandemic has had a profound effect on our daily behavior. At its peak, the frequency of entertainment and eating out dropped to less than half of what it was before the pandemic, and the impact was not only on the economy but also on people’s connections.
As mentioned in the previous issue of #74, “What a free work style makes possible,” remote work has many benefits, but it also poses challenges in terms of team cohesion and social connectedness. In the Microsoft Work Trend Index survey, 85% of employees said that their motivation for coming to the office was to “rebuild team bonds.
What is needed in the “place” called the office today?
We need to provide the value that employees get from the network, such as ideas and inspiration,” said Chris Capossela, Microsoft’s chief marketing officer. He said. Authentic culture and communication transcend physical space.
This week’s theme is the role of “place” in a new light. In the opinion piece that follows, we will examine the various places that reconnect us, not just in the office.
The secret of a "place" that makes people want to gather all the way out here
In this day and age when work and study can be done without everyone going out of their way to get together, what kind of “place” is it that makes people want to go out of their way to get together?
This reminds me of the Friday bars that appear every week in Denmark, where I was studying. On Friday nights, university campuses are transformed into bars for students, by students. It is a place, for example, where students studying Japanese meet Japanese students, where they hear from professors about things they can’t hear in class, and where romance sometimes takes place.
Many students go to Friday Bar (even they skip class) because it is not just a place to enjoy a drink, but a place where “connections” are made between people. Above all, Friday bars provide a good excuse to get together with friends.
Looking at other examples from overseas, “WASBAR” in Belgium and “Café Laundromat” in Norway are interesting. Both are laundromats, but the purpose of the people who gather there is to “enjoy cocktails with friends or go on a date with someone they met on a dating app” while doing laundry. They provide an excuse for people to gather, a good meal and a nifty reading space, while using laundry as a catalyst.
Whether or not a place can create an opportunity for people to gather, new connections, encounters, and pretexts, will be required of places in the future.
Dog Therapy Soothing Students
In the central school district of Tennessee, there are plans to introduce the first therapy dog. It has been proven that dogs can help reduce human cortisol levels, and the introduction of a therapy dog is expected to alleviate stress and enable students to have a smoother school life. Nashville K-9, in cooperation with the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office, is attempting to train an 18-month-old Lagotto Romagnolo.
A Platform for Promoting Open Innovation NTT
NTT West Japan opened the membership-based open innovation facility ‘QUINTBRIDGE’ in March last year to accelerate innovation for solving social issues and revitalizing markets. It serves as an intersection for various sectors, including corporations, startups, local governments, and universities, offering support for business co-creation and talent development. The facility is equipped with presentation spaces, workshop areas, coworking spaces, 3D printer booths, and a cafe serving coffee and snacks, as well as a photography studio.
Co-creation Generated by Volunteers
In today’s society, where the sense of distance between people is palpable, importance is placed on the purpose and meaning of work and social contribution. Volunteering is valued as an innovative activity that creates connections between business, communities, and individuals. Companies like IBM and PwC recognize that volunteer activities bring positive experiences to employees. Rather than the traditional one-off activities supported by corporate sponsors, employees live and work in a specific community for six weeks to three months, promoting joint development between the company and the community. 72% of the companies that supported this initiative reported an increase in employee loyalty and improved performance.
Car-Free Town and Wellbeing
In 2006, entrepreneur Brewer purchased 1,200 acres of land in the state of Guanacaste, Costa Rica, to create a car-free town. This initiative focuses on ‘New Urbanism,’ emphasizing environmentally friendly design, walkable compact layouts, and the intermingling of private and public spaces to enhance social interaction. The town features a maze of pedestrian-only pathways, studio apartments, Spanish-style villas, local businesses, and scenic public squares. The design of the community, where children can run around safely and access to quality schools and medical care is easy, is said to have a positive impact on the wellbeing of its residents.