So you’ve read our list of reasons not to get an office in Japan, but decided to get one anyway. Perhaps it’s because you’re on a self-sponsored work visa, and you need to provide a fixed office address without having to pay extremely pricey rent. Or maybe you need that clear home/office separation and your own private space. Now what? A serviced office might be the best option for you. What’s that, you ask? This handy little guide to Tokyo serviced offices will do the explaining.
Why consider a serviced office?
Tokyo serviced offices are fully furnished office spaces; as such, they work on a pay-per-use basis. These offices can be quite small, having a capacity of about 1-5 people. Unlike co-working spaces, they are actual offices with doors, and not just shared desks. Here are the main reasons that make serviced offices ideal for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups:
They save you the trouble of spending on utilities, furniture and equipment, making it easy to set up your business immediately. Not only do you no longer have to look for providers or take a small truck to IKEA, you also don’t have to worry about maintenance costs. Usually, the only additional costs you have to pay are telephone and internet bills, as well as fees for the use of conference rooms. This does make monthly payments higher than those of typical offices, but considering what’s included in your rent, you’re generally getting a good deal.
Unlike typical office spaces, which are leased for about five years, serviced offices offer short-term leases for (depending on provider) 1, 3, 6 or 12 months. Serviced offices are thus extremely advantageous in Tokyo, where the office rental market often demands an advance payment of a year’s worth of rent, and, at times, an additional payment called key money, which is a non-refundable “deposit” equivalent to up to six months of rent. Flexibility makes serviced offices great for short-term projects and those who eventually want to relocate. It also gives companies the freedom to expand or downsize.
Tokyo serviced offices: top options
“Great! So where do I sign up, and how?” you ask. You could start with one of these options, both of which have (to the best of our knowledge) English-speaking staff. Most providers (except for the extremely cheap ones) have shared lounge/kitchen spaces, which are great for the occasional coffee break or some socialization. Working in a one or two-person office can be lonely, after all.
While signing up for a lease can be burdensome, it’s not really any more of a bother than other contracts in Japan. You’ll need a certificate of company registration (toukibo touhon, 登記簿謄本) and the company’s certificate of seal impression (inkan shoumeisho, 印鑑証明書), both of which you can get from a nearby Ministry of Justice office.
With a large variety of locations across Tokyo starting from one-man booths to spacious corner offices, Tensho Office will more than likely have something to suit your needs.
Choosing an office location can be tricky, especially as the particular district may bring a certain status or “cool” to your business card. Tensho Office covers most central Tokyo locations from stylish Aoyama to strictly business Shimbashi. Other locations include, Kanda, Nihombashi, Akihabara, Shirokane, Ikebukuro, Otsuka, Shinjuku, Yoyogi and more.
|Pricing info:||From ¥31,900/month + tax|
Compass has two locations in Tokyo: one in Ebisu in the Ebisu Green Glass Building (1 minute from Ebisu Station or 15 minuites from Shibuya by foot), and another, with private offices atop Kamiyacho Station in Toranomon.
The Meguro location is spread over multiple floors, with office sizes ranging from one-person rooms to spaces that can accommodate about 10 people. Another feature of the Meguro location is the “Habitat” co-working space which, for a little extra, provides facilities such as a kitchen, cafe seating, pool table and gym.
|Pricing info:||From ¥52,000/month + tax|
A super-cheap option for a shoebox-sized serviced office is Biz Circle. They have offices in fashionable locations such as Shinjuku and Aoyama, as well as a few in less fashionable locations like Umibe in Koto ward and Nagahara in Ota ward. If you are just looking for a fixed office for visa purposes, then the remote location might not be an issue. Biz Circle has offices in Shinjuku measuring a staggeringly small 1.7 square meters for about ¥30,000/month, while a 3.3 square meter office in Umibe will set you back around ¥28,350/month.
|Pricing info:||From ¥28,350/month (one-person office)|
|Locations:||Shinjuku, Komagome, Ikebukuro, Minami-Aoyama, Aobadai, Nishi-ogi Minami, Umibe, Nagahara and more|
A reasonably-priced option in Shibuya is Agora Tokyo, an open-plan location aimed squarely at those who want open space, natural light and community in their offices. Units are in an open-plan office in the World Udagawa Building; all subscribers have access to 100mb fiber optic internet, meeting/socialization spaces and meeting rooms, printing facilities, ergonomic chairs and customizable desks with storage space, a large balcony, tea and coffee, and 24/7 secure access. Rent is tied to desk size, starting at ¥55,000/month for a 950mm desk, going up to ¥80,000/month for a 1600mm desk.
|Pricing info:||From ¥55,000/month to ¥80,000/month|
There are also the two well-known international names—Regus and Servcorp. The main advantage of these Tokyo serviced offices is that they are used to dealing with international clientele.
Regus has locations all over Tokyo, covering the main business districts such as Otemachi, Shinjuku, Akasaka, Ginza, Roppongi and Marunouchi. Although they’re cagey about their prices, a friend of Tokyo Cheapo rented a two-person office at their Aoyama Place Canada location for around ¥180,000/month. In addition to rent, there may be extra fees for use of the kitchen, internet and telephone that could add an extra ¥20,000 or more per person—so these are moving out of cheapo territory.
Servcorp’s offices provide receptionists to take your calls, as well as access to AV equipment and meeting rooms. Their offices are also located in major districts such as Shinagawa and Omotesando.
Other business resources for the cheapo
Before committing to a full-on serviced office, check out our sister guide to cheap virtual offices in Tokyo. You might also be interested in finding affordable suits and strategic spots for business lunches. Now, go make those yens!
This post was first published on December 26, 2014. Last updated by Carey Finn on October 2, 2017.