Illustrator Hiroki Tsuboi Visits Sumitomo Group
Tokyo Head Office (Tokyo Midtown Yaesu)
Sumitomo Life Insurance

In February 2023 Sumitomo Life Insurance's Tokyo Head Office said goodbye to its former premises in Tsukiji, Tokyo, and relocated to Tokyo Midtown Yaesu, a sleek glass tower adjacent to JR Tokyo Station.
The overarching concept of the new premises is to create an HQ that contributes to the well-being of everyone who comes to the office.

Well-being and insurance are closely linked!

A walking course that takes you around the spacious office.
You are encouraged to walk with a stride appropriate for your height.

Well-being and insurance are closely linked!

As soon as you enter the Head Office, it is noticeable how the extensive use of wood and the profusion of greenery help create an attractive ambience.

Leave JR Tokyo Station via the Yaesu Exit and you will find yourself at the foot of a soaring 45-story skyscraper, Tokyo Midtown Yaesu, whose grand opening was in March 2023. Sumitomo Life Insurance's Tokyo Head Office occupies the 20th to 24th floors of this building. Look westward from this vantage point and you will see Tokyo Station, the Imperial Palace, and much else spread out before you. The new premises in Yaesu are quite a contrast to the former ones at Tsukiji, Chuo-ku. For a start, the roomy new 5-floor Tokyo Head Office, including common areas, amounts to approximately 17,000m2 of floor space, four times larger than the former head office. One floor is 4,100m2, which is equivalent to about 16 tennis courts! Having so much room right next to Tokyo Station is amazing.

“Within the three floors, from the 20th to 22nd, devoted to office space, people circulate from floor to floor using the stairs rather than the elevators in the common area. So, most of us walk as much as 10,000 steps a day just by commuting and working in the office," says Mr. Yuya Yamashita of the General Affairs Office. In fact, I also run every day to keep fit. It is great to be getting so much exercise just by being at the office. Clearly, the Tokyo Head Office is designed to maximize the well-being of everyone who uses it.

20F:Bar, Hillside 21F:Living room, Campus 22F:Library, Café lounge 20F:Bar, Hillside 21F:Living room, Campus 22F:Library, Café lounge
Adjacent to the stairwell are communication areas that can be used for multiple purposes, such as relaxing, working, chatting, and gathering information. Each area has a different theme, such as “Library" and “Hillside," which has an outdoorsy atmosphere.

Becoming an “indispensable insurance group" that contributes to well-being is at the heart of the Sumitomo Life Group's Vision 2030, formulated in 2023. “Well-being" encompasses not only physical health but also mental and social health and happiness. Nowadays, more and more companies recognize the value of management designed to promote well-being.

“Our SUMITOMO LIFE Vitality Shared Value Insurance is a life insurance product combined with a wellness program, which supports policyholders' engagement in health-enhancing activities. As the provider of this product, we thought it fitting that we should systematically take steps to help all our people live healthier lives." (Mr. Yamashita)

The theme of the new head office is “Connect, Expand, Move on." The company also wanted to resolve the issues of the former head office. There, where each department had its own room, employees talked with coworkers in the same department but interaction with those in other departments was scanty. Thus, the cultivation of relationships with people beyond one's immediate purview was hampered, which impeded access to sources of useful information. So, in the new office, the company introduced a free-address system that allows employees to use a desk wherever they wish to work. On the 20th to 22nd floors, there are five “communication areas," which are a cross between workspaces and socializing spaces, creating “opportunities" for meaningful encounters among the 2,000-strong HQ workforce, largely unconstrained by departmental affiliation or relative position in the corporate hierarchy.

An active conference room
An “active" conference room is suitable for disseminating information
in an informal setting.
A theater conference room
A “theater" conference room is best for presentations and discussion.

Each communication area has a different theme expressed in its décor and ambience. These included the muted atmosphere of “Library," a café-style “Bar," and “Hillside" for an outdoorsy experience. According to Mr. Yamashita, “the idea is for employees to select the place and time optimal for the nature of their work and to be productive." With all this space available, there are some novel features such as the Vitality Walking Course, comprising a 200-meter track laid out on each the three office floors, which, including the stairs, comes to a walk of 720 meters. On the walls of the stairs, distances to landmarks and major districts in Tokyo are posted, such as “3.9km to Tokyo Dome" and “4.9km to Roppongi." So people know that if they walk 3 km in the office, it is equivalent to strolling to Tokyo Tower.

In addition to creating a space conducive to open and easy interactions with others, the power of information and communication technology (ICT) is exploited in pursuit of paperless operations and ease of use. For example, there is a state-of-the-art Web conference system as well as conference rooms with facilities for distribution of presentations and panel discussions to people within the company or to external audiences. There is also a studio for distribution of training content to sites throughout Japan and for delivering information to customers. Many private remote work booths are available for hybrid small-group meetings combining face-to-face and remote communication. Furthermore, in order to increase opportunities for new interactions among the workforce, the company regularly holds “shuffle lunches," at which employees who do not know one another share a table for lunch. These get-togethers are attended by anything from a 100 to 150 people.

Shuffle lunches are held monthly. New encounters, unconstrained by departmental affiliation, are vitalizing internal communication! Shuffle lunches are held monthly. New encounters, unconstrained by departmental affiliation, are vitalizing internal communication!

At the former HQ, attendance at the office was naturally low during the COVID-19 pandemic. But at the new HQ, Sumitomo Life Insurance has gone out of its way to increase the density of interactions and maximize well-being, with the aim of creating a space with a low threshold for communication. Whereas the ratio of employees working in the office was 49% in April 2022, before the relocation and in the aftermath of the pandemic, it had risen to 65% by April 2023, at the new premises. You can select your optimal workspace and pursue a healthier lifestyle while working more productively. Who wouldn't jump at the chance to work in such an office?

A workplace filled with vitality

Mr. Tsuboi, why don't we have a meeting with the people we had lunch with yesterday?
Oh, it's rather crowded! Ever since the relocation, many more people have been appearing at the office!
There's space available here. Oh, I have walked over 10,000 steps without leaving the office! You look like an advertisement for healthy life! It's because we walk so far every day…
Next day Let's hike to Mt. Fuji!? Sumitomo Life Insurance, a workplace flled with vitality

Editor's note

In the stairwell are signs indicating how far it is and how long it takes to walk to landmarks and popular destinations in Tokyo, such as “3.9km to Tokyo Dome” and “4.9km to Roppongi.” “Well-being” in the context of corporate management has rapidly become a watchword in Japan. According to the results of a questionnaire survey conducted by HR Research Institute, 40% of major Japanese companies are “implementing measures for well-being,” and if those “considering implementation” are included, about 80% of major companies recognize the value of management designed to promote well-being. Sumitomo Life Insurance’s initiatives to become an “indispensable insurance group” while also taking steps to maximize the well-being of every member of its workforce positions the company at the forefront of a people-centered management trend that is gaining traction worldwide.

course map and walking map

Number (Manga Reportage "Visits to Sumitomo Group")