Cafes, hotels power up to draw ‘nomad workers’

Kyodo

Cafe chains and hotels are adapting to the growing population of “nomad workers” using mobile devices to work outside the office.

A Renoir coffee shop near Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station is well known for such workers, thanks to its 20 power outlets provided specifically for those who need to work on laptop computers or charge mobile phones.

Operator Ginza Renoir Co. began installing more power outlets at almost all of its coffee shops in Tokyo, Saitama and Kanagawa prefectures a decade ago. Free Wi-Fi access is also being added.

More women and students are frequenting the coffee shop chain to use mobile devices, an unnamed company representative said.

Meanwhile, the Shinagawa Prince Hotel in Minato Ward, Tokyo, set up a business lounge for nomad workers in its N Tower during a recent refurbishment. The new lounge, unveiled when the building reopened in late March, has partitioned desks and allows guests to use power outlets and Wi-Fi at no cost. Free beverages are also available.

The lounge is designed to “make (businesspeople) feel relaxed so they can think of new ideas for their work,” Kiyoshi Mochizuki, general manager of the hotel, said. “We expect them to use it as their office in Tokyo” when they visit the capital for work.

A guest who used the lounge said it had “a sense of fun” and that he was able to “work comfortably.”

Currently, only hotel guests can use the lounge, but the hotel will consider opening it to a wider range of people in the future, Mochizuki said.

Businesspeople who travel extensively, meanwhile, tend to rely on the Dengen Cafe website, which lists some 1,700 restaurants, coffee shops, convenience stores and other places with free power outlets nomad workers can use in 37 prefectures from Hokkaido to Okinawa. The site also includes information on whether the locations have smoking sections and free Wi-Fi.

The website gets 150,000 hits a month on average.