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SOCIAL RESIDENCE NISHI KASAI

Interview: Isao Aoki (Social Residence Nishi-Kasai resident)

Is this the way of working in the future? Why remote working in a share house works so well

When you hear the word "share house", what image comes up in your mind? Everyone may have their own idea, from a harmonious group of people living together, or a place with a big kitchen to make lots of food, or a place with lots of foreigners and people speaking all sorts of different languages. But perhaps people do not really think of share houses as a place to work.

Isao Aoki is a resident at Social Residence Nishi-Kasai, and works in public relations in the IT industry. Even though he is employed full-time, he does not go in to an office, and instead works remotely. When he is working, he is in the shared space of Social Residence Nishi-Kasai. But if this is a group living environment, is it possible to focus in such a place?

In this interview, we talked to Aoki about working remotely from a share house.

Interview with Social Residence Nishi-Kasai resident Mr. Aoki

What's your typical schedule in a day?

On weekdays that I work, I wake up sometime between 7 to 9, and start work as soon as I've finished breakfast. I work in the lounge on the first floor, or the library on the second, so my commute time is zero minutes. I work until noon, then make something easy for lunch in the lounge kitchen. Since I make my lunch I can keep it cheap and healthy.

After lunch I go back to work, but if I need to go shopping, or to the hospital or some other errand, I can finish before 6 PM. Of course sometimes I want to go outside while the sun is still up. Then I can come back home and finish up what I haven't completed. At night I'll use the gym or go jogging along the river.

There's a gym space in the house, and it feels really good to run along the jogging course by the river. It's a good place for people who like sports or similar activities, which is one of the main reasons I decided to live here.

Jogging course near SR Nishi-Kasai (from Oak Blog)

Sounds like a logical and healthy lifestyle. And how nice it must be not to have a commute!

I suppose so! Since you can cut down time on commuting you have more time to use effectively. I don't know if I could go back to heading to work in a packed train!

I'm honestly really grateful to be able to work in this environment, and I encourage everyone to try it, if they can.

How often are you remote working?

Once or twice a week I head into my company's office. Other than that I work in the share house.

Can you actually focus doing work in a share house?

Yes, very well actually. During the weekdays the first-floor lounge is pretty much empty, and since the library is quiet, lots of people can go there to read, study, or work. When I want to seriously focus I'll do the work in the library, but if I need a change of pace or don't mind a little conversation I'll work from the first-floor lounge. Remote working is pretty lonely, and I imagine it must be even more lonely if you live completely on your own.

I see. So basically you are remote working precisely because you're in a share house.

Yes. I think remote working and share houses go very well together. You can easily just work all day by yourself, or get some communication when you need it, so it's an ideal environment.

The library space in SR Nishi-Kasai

What kind of people live in Social Residence Nishi-Kasai? What kind of housemates do you spend time with?

Most of the people living here have jobs. There aren't many students. There's a couple of 20-year-old students but most of us are in our late 20s to early 30s, and a few even older.

We don't have as many parties as other share houses, but I think most of us are fine with that. We have get-togethers sometimes though.

Sometimes if you're in the lounge eating someone might say, "hey, wanna go grab a drink?" and that's cool. I just remembered, the other day a few people had a barbecue here, that was fun.

BBQ on the veranda (from Oak Blog)

How often do residents move in and move out?

I don't know everybody, but it does seem like there's someone new or someone leaving every month. But that gives a sense of direction and momentum, I think. There are a couple of people that have moved to a bunch of other Social Residence, as they enjoy the new lifestyles. I might even move to another Social Residence in the future. Not because I don't like it here, because I do, but because I'm interested in trying out different environments.

Are there ever any problems?

Not really. I mean, living with other people can be a challenge sometimes. But I think we all try to keep a respectable distance most of the time!

What kind of people do you think should live in a share house?

It may seem obvious, but in a share house you can find people of different ages, and who hold different values, so if you can approach different people without prejudice then it's a perfect place. It helps to be really open, and also tolerant.

Like I said, with people living in close proximity, sometimes some issues can come up. But because of that, it's better to have an attitude that, of course we're all going to get in each other's way every once in awhile, instead of the strict traditional Japanese sense of never trying to bother anybody ever.

What do you think has changed about you having lived here for a year and a half?

I think I've stopped worrying about other people, and I mean that in a good way. At first, I didn't even want to use the kitchen at the same time as someone else. Or I didn't even want to pass someone else in the hallway. Like, who does that kind of consideration help? So now I do not mind at all.

In the same vein, I don't even get offended if someone does something that might have annoyed me personally. I became much more tolerant. I heard awhile back someone say that the best way to enjoy a share house is not to worry too much about everyone else, and I really think that's true.

Spacious kitchen at Social Residence Nishi-Kasai

Do you have any advice for people who are thinking about moving into a share house?

Some people think that they wouldn't be able to handle a shared environment, but I think that misunderstands what a share house is. So I think it's best to hear about it from residents themselves.

One misconception is that a share house is a cheap single house, with a bunch of people living in austerity, with no privacy, or something like that. Sure, that may have been how it was in the past, but places like Social Residence Nishi-Kasai are totally different.

For me, I even think that I probably won't ever live a typical life alone again. If I get married and want to start a family obviously I would move out, but if I'm ever on my own again I'd probably move back to a share house! Of course, should something like that happen... (laughs)

It seems like you really enjoy it here! Thank you for taking the time to talk to us.

To see Social Residence Nishi-Kasai, where Mr. Aoki lives, see here:
https://www.oakhouse.jp/eng/house/672