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Next-gen Tokyo conference room explores new workstyles to foster creativity

Ricoh Co. employees are seen engaging in programs to facilitate meditation and socializing in Ricoh Prism, a conference room using sound and video technology, in Tokyo's Ota Ward on April 15, 2021. (Mainichi/Takehiko Onishi)

TOKYO -- Bright colors are projected onto a vast, white space enveloped in light and sound, creating an experience exciting all five senses.

    In November 2020, major electronics manufacturer Ricoh Co. opened its conference room Ricoh Prism in the company's next-generation workplace 3L, created following renovation of Ohmori Hall, as part of efforts to explore new ways of working.

    Plans for 3L, named after Ricoh's founding principles "The Spirit of Three Loves," namely, "Love your neighbor," "Love your country" and "Love your work," had been underway since 2018, around the time the company incorporated remote work practices. Primarily young employees have been tasked with the preparations. While they were originally engaged in building an office where staff can work creatively and "spend meaningful time interacting face-to-face," the space took on increasing significance amid the spread of telework in the coronavirus pandemic.

    3L's facilities include a former gymnasium space covered in murals, as well as a bar where people can sit and chat. Its main feature, Ricoh Prism, offers four programs of 15 to 40 minutes each that aim to encourage brainstorming ideas and meditation. A cube-shaped controller and other sensors measure activity data, such as remarks made during meetings, breathing, and pulse rates; numerical conversions and graphs indicating the amount of speech, degree of relaxation and other information are projected on a wall in the space.

    It is anticipated the conference room and its technology will serve as a cradle for producing creative ideas for use in planning new services and in marketing.

    Haruki Murata, 32, head of the development team, said, "There are times when meeting face-to-face is necessary. It's important to design styles of working while balancing in-person encounters well with non-face-to-face interactions."

    3L can be reserved for use by third parties outside the company.

    (Japanese original by Takehiko Onishi, Photo Group)

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