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Zen and the art of working from home: a Japanese manufacturer offers a mini office kit | Japan

Japanese design is renowned for its minimalism and for keeping things simple and uncluttered.

So it’s no surprise that a leading home builder is trying to address the lack of space for working from home during a pandemic by marketing a small home office building that can be built next to homes. in just two days, weather permitting.

Hanare Zen is a 91cm wide and 1.8m long building equipped with power outlets, a counter-type desk and very little else.

KI Star Real Estate, a popular homebuilder, began taking orders for Hanare Zen on September 6, hoping to find a market among those struggling to work in cramped homes.

Hanare means separate or detached in Japanese, while Zenzen is written both in Chinese characters for Zen Buddhism and in the alphabet.

“We had already created the Hanare building as a kind of storage space, and with the pandemic situation, the idea came to develop Hanare Zen as a workspace,” said Chisa Uchiyama, spokesperson for KI Star Real Estate. “The use of ‘Zen’ in the name represents the minimalist concept of reducing size and functionality to what is only necessary.

“It is designed for people who have difficulty finding a comfortable space to work in their home and who do not want to annoy their families,” Uchiyama added.

Hanare Zen designed by Japanese builder KI Star Real Estate
A single chair fits perfectly inside the small office Photography: KI Star Real Estate

Hanare Zen costs 547,800 yen (£ 3,600) and is available in Tokyo and surrounding prefectures.

For some of the 70% of Tokyo’s population who live in apartments and couldn’t use a building like Hanare Zen, working in their cars has become a way to find some peace and quiet.

Demand is on the rise for a range of accessories to support work in the vehicle, including computer mounts that fit steering wheels, folding desks, mini fans, portable batteries, and window displays. in order to block outside distractions.

In Kawasaki, south of Tokyo, the Tokyu Railway Company refurbished old train cars and converted them into remote workspaces that can be rented for 200 yen (£ 1.30) an hour in their Train museum & Bus.

The company has also transformed some of its ticket counters at train stations into shared office spaces, which it started offering for rent in July. Declining passenger numbers and commuter pass sales due to the pandemic have reduced demand for its ticketing services.

Even after the pandemic has been brought under control, 90% of large Japanese companies that have implemented telecommuting intend to continue doing so, according to a Mainichi Shimbun newspaper survey earlier this year.

Although Japan has not imposed full closures, the government has asked people who can work from home as much as possible in the state of emergency, to avoid crowded public transport in cities and to reduce traffic jams. risk of infections in the workplace.

The current state of emergency, the fourth since the start of the pandemic, has been extended in Tokyo, Osaka and 17 other prefectures until the end of the month.

In addition to cramped housing, the lack of digital infrastructure in many businesses and the need to travel to offices to stamp documents and receipts with official seals have made full telecommuting difficult for many public and public sector employees. private.

On September 1, Japan launched a new digital agency to address these issues and accelerate the digitization of the economy and administrative processes within local authorities, central government and businesses.

theguardian Gt

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