Corporations on their way to coworking

In the middle of the coworking rush, corporations are also aiming at getting a slice of the cake. I went to meet Manami Alberto, Senior Manager at Servcorp. Servcorp, usually providing serviced office spaces, is currently opening coworking spaces in Tokyo’s main business areas.

The meeting was set up in their Yusen location, in front of the Imperial Palace. At first, I thought I was dreaming. How is it possible to have a coworking space there, in the middle of of these luxury buildings? The neighborhood is one of the most expensive places of Tokyo, housing the most prestigious companies.

Weeks ago, Aaron Burdick, web contents producer for Servcorp contacted me through CoWorking.Coffee and invited me to visit their new location. They promise I didn’t get any special treatment but I was greeted as VIP with extra attentive staff, leather sofa and offered a personalised brochure with my name and the logo of my project. Definitely not a typical coworking space.

Manami explains: “We provide brand new five-star coworking space. Servcorp is usually more complete office solution oriented, but for our coworking space… You can imagine like it’s cafe style! I think we are very different from the competition. We provide the best service IT solutions, best team services, and also the best location in Tokyo. 
We only have offices in prime buildings and prime locations”

Indeed, the coworking spaces in Tokyo are rarely located in the most prestigious and expensive building in business areas. Other business centers usually do not offer coworking space options, although they are getting to it. We will talk about that another time.

Servcorp’s coworking space occupies half of the office in Yusen, the other part being occupied by more traditional serviced offices. Its layout is fairly simple: a gigantic stylish wooden table, separated single desks, functioning on first come first served basis, spacious lockers and shiny top of the art equipment.

The kitchen is also brand new, tea and coffee complimentary, and even a liquor cabinet, but this one is not complimentary.

Included in the package, Servcorp provides an IT support, available on phone calls whenever needed for assisting members with setting up wifi or improving security on their machines.

For an extra charge, Servcorp also provides personal assistants. They can arrange meetings, take calls for you, take care of accounting and expenses, serve tea when receiving guests, typical Japanese style, provide translation and even book trips on member’s behalf.

Servcorp is an international corporation with a massive infrastructure and years of experience in providing workspaces. It allows them to provide high quality service even for the coworking option. Later, Manami demonstrates how Servcorp optional phone system works. Once a number is set up, members can get a unique phone app which allows them to automatically register their phone number onto any IP phone inside a Servcorp Coworking Lounge. This enables users to access phone calls at international rates for 60% of what it would normally cost in Japan.

Of course, their coworking option allows to book meeting rooms in all their offices worldwide, and use other coworking lounge up to 3 hours complimentary per day. Also, you are free to bring guests for meetings or accompany you.

“The reason why we have this new product is we see the world changing. The needs of people’s work is changing. I believe in more coworking spaces. People are getting very flexible to have workplace anywhere in the world now, and it doesn’t have to be only one place! 
Also our aim is to encourage more interaction between people in the coworking space. You can see similar types of people as you go to the coworking space and have a conversation with them. You can find something in common, and maybe then make a new business contact. It creates more opportunities!”

When I visited, the coworking space was open for less than a month and Servcorp was still working on the marketing. Nevertheless, they already had fixed members for this specific location. But Tokyo is not the only coworking experiment for Servcorp.

They are opening coworking spaces in business areas in London and New York. The system works as a drop in and you can go from one location to another one.

“It is just the beginning for us. We want to see how it goes and then we may add or change some things in the future.”

Manami enjoys her job advising her clients about the services Servcorp can provide.

“With this job, I get to know a lot of different things from my clients because we have so many different clients, in different industries. Our services are very popular among famous companies. It’s very interesting to have prestigious clients to talk to and learn things from conversations with them. I can grow myself by communicating with my clients.”

Servcorp coworking spaces are definitely not the same as the ones I’ve visited in the past. No handstand meeting or yoga break like in Hubud, for example.

The quality and equipment of the facility and the suits-and-formal style of the staff and clients create a new hypothesis for the coworking paradigm: what happens when traditional business oriented people are doing coworking?

But Manami reassures: “businesses of all sizes and statures are welcome here. Startup companies willing to invest a bit more money will have access to services that they normally wouldn’t, like high quality meeting rooms, equipment, and even ad-hoc assistants who can help with things like translation.”

For the world, it’s a good thing if people from different horizons are catching the same interest in coworking. It means we are onto something, right?


This article is part of a series of adventures written by CoWorking.Coffee relating to a coworking tour around Asia in 2015.

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