Focus Initiatives for 2019, No. 1:
Creating Organizations Resilient to Changes in the Market Environment

To propose even better office spaces and work styles to customers, KOKUYO searched for our own work style reform unique to KOKUYO. What is the ideal organization and work style that KOKUYO seeks?

An Idea-Centric Business Management, and a Focus on ESG management

Breaking Away from the Past and Fostering a New Corporate Culture and Climate

In KOKUYO’s history of 115 years since being established, we have grown while selling items from paper products and stationery to office furniture as well as expanding into the spatial design business. As part of our growth process, our growth model in the past was to efficiently produce standard products in bulk and bring value to the market. Today, the market environment has changed significantly, and we are in an era where it is getting harder to expect growth by following what we have done so far. Product life cycles are becoming shorter and companies are expected to always provide new added value. Against such changes in the environment, many companies in Japan are not making progress in transforming employee mindsets or breaking away from existing work styles. They are unable to escape from the intense success stories of an era when the focus was on selling things. KOKUYO also faces this issue of breaking away from various common knowledge within the company arising from such a past and fostering a new corporate culture and climate.

To overcome this issue and for both KOKUYO and our employees to grow sustainably, we aim to be an organization that is resilient to changes in the market environment and accepts diversity. This is against the backdrop of KOKUYO always being particular about drawing out value from our employees in our operation strategy.

Increasing Individual Autonomy toward an Organization That Grows Together with People

To draw out value from our employees is to increase employee autonomy and allow each person to better apply the value they inherently have. We aim to create an organization resilient to changes with diverse values by gathering autonomous individuals who innovate together. I think increasing the autonomy of each employee means having employees take ownership of issues—such as the kind of corporate culture and climate they want to work in, the type of work they want to do, and how they want to grow through work—and expand their scope of action based on their own initiative. If existing work environments and systems are hindering factors, it is necessary to remove them. We are planning and implementing various initiatives as work style reform unique to KOKUYO toward realizing these goals.

Toward Realization of Work Flexibility and Better QOL

As for specific initiatives, we have two major ones. They are to revamp our core personnel system and to transform our work styles and welfare system. For the former, we have established a system that makes it easier to directly link results with compensation compared to the past.

For the latter, as part of creating systems for developing employee autonomy, we are working on a plan that can be applied to employees regardless of position, attributes, or age. The aim is to create opportunities for health, learning, and growth by building systems and frameworks allowing employees to choose their time and place of work on their own as well as by establishing welfare support meeting the diverse needs of employees.

Furthermore, since two years ago, we have been working on flexibility in working conditions, such as allowing employees to choose on their diverse work styles that are not bound by time and place. This includes the limited-period trial named “Exciting Smart Work” that promotes the implementation of teleworking and utilization of satellite offices. Always paying attention to the way time is used, the theme is about how to use the 24 hours each day that everyone is given equally. It is not aimed only at creating time by doing current work even more efficiently. The change in the way we use time that we hope to achieve is the approach of reducing working hours by reviewing existing work styles and methods so as to create and invest time for realizing individual growth and better QOL.

Accelerating Reform in Preparation for Further Changes

At present, many companies are likely to be implementing work style reform not because they must do it but because it is better to do so. However, the issues faced by Japan—including a low birth rate and ageing population—and other factors such as the development of AI technologies are moving with increasing speed. As society’s requirements rapidly grow strong, it is a matter of time before work style reform becomes something we must do. For KOKUYO to be a company chosen and needed by people and society, I think it is necessary to undertake reform starting from now and further accelerate it.

The various measures we are currently undertaking are just means for achieving our targets. We hope to make steady progress toward sustainable growth and the creation of an organization with diversity resilient to changes in the market environment while sharing with employees the vision KOKUYO is aiming for and deepening their understanding of this vision.