In response to various issues the director of a logistics company wished to address—surging business, a shortage of truck drivers, and the difficulty of securing part-time packagers and inspectors—this renovation project sought a better working environment for employees and a more polished corporate identity. Although distribution warehouses may seem plain and utilitarian, having an appealing space on-site would motivate existing employees, help attract new ones, and improve the corporate image. Because it would have been hard to complete the project all at once, the management set it in motion by gradually updating various areas.
Originally, the space adjoining the main office in this 35-year-old warehouse had served as an employee break area. Though the office itself was clearly not designed for this purpose, full of old steel desks and office chairs, it was gradually repurposed as a larger break area. From an operations perspective, there were a few issues. Not all of the space was being used, and old steel desks substituted for break-room furniture. Restrooms still had old-fashioned Japanese toilets. There were calls for more suitable desks, where employees could talk with visitors or work on a laptop computer. As a comprehensive response to these needs, we proposed a lounge primarily for employees—more comfortable for breaks and lunch while being flexible enough to use for meetings and computer work. Warehouse work had traditionally attracted more men, but this project was also an opportunity to update the bathroom sink area, where improvement was overdue. Especially at a time when more women are entering this field, making up for a lack of drivers and applying deft skills in packaging, the company has benefited from a workplace that is more comfortable for men and women alike. The wood-paneled lounge provides a refreshing contrast to the metal-walled warehouse, which makes it a relaxing space.