Raku Chat: Sharing stories about Rakuten and yourself with your team

February 7th marked the 24th anniversary of the founding of Rakuten. To commemorate the occasion, various projects were undertaken and in this column, we introduce one of them: Raku Chat, a tool uniquely suited for remote work. Currently, due to the spread of the new coronavirus, the Rakuten Group continues to combine working from home and working out of the office. In a survey of several thousand people conducted last year, some responded that it had become difficult to feel the company’s culture.
(Click here for the related article: “What impact has the coronavirus had on Rakuten’s corporate culture?” )

Sharing stories about Rakuten and yourself with your team

Raku Chat is a website tool that employees can access. With each push of a button, a different random topic appears. At team meetings, the meeting facilitator shares his or her screen to display the topic on Raku Chat. The other meeting participants then share their responses to the topic using the chat function of the video conferencing system (Rakuten uses Zoom). The facilitator will look for responses that might make for lively conversation, following up with participants by asking, “So, _______-san, what did you mean by your response? Please tell us more.”

Topics are grouped in three general categories, mainly related to the anniversary of the company’s founding: Back to Basics, Rakuten Shugi (Rakuten’s corporate philosophy), and You and Rakuten. For example, here is a list of some topics:

-Describe Rakuten using three keywords (Back to Basics)
-Tell us about the worst screw-up you made during your Rakuten Life (Back to Basics)
-How can we create the strongest “One Team”?(Rakuten’s corporate philosophy)
-What Rakuten Group services do you like?(You and Rakuten)

Intentionally creating “breathing space”

“Really? I had no idea that Rakuten had such a service!”
“Do you mean that really happened?”

Sharing stories within teams through Raku Chat enables team members to discover services that the company offers and facets of their colleagues that they were not aware of. How about spending the first10 minutes of team meetings to allow everyone to better get to know one another? While some employees have a long history with the company, others may have only just joined last year and still lack experience. Amid the current work environment characterized by a high ratio of employees working from home, pockets of time have disappeared, the result being that discussions tend to focus on work topics. Behind the development of this tool was the intent to create, through Raku Chat, opportunities for employees to “feel” the company and learn new things about other members. Since its release in early February, data indicate that it was used more than 5,000 times worldwide within the first week.

The catalyst was the guidelines for “Collective Well-Being”

he impetus behind the development of Raku Chat can be found in the collective well-being guidelines released by the Rakuten People & Culture Lab in the summer of 2020.To better familiarize workers with well-being, one of the initiatives launched along with the guidelines was a die and calendar that pose questions related to well-being with the aim of sparking discussion within teams about such topics as how to connect as a team, how to allocate time, and how to organize an optimal work environment. (Collective Well-being site (Japanese only) )

Furthermore, Raku Chat was born as a result of multiple inventive efforts to adapt the tool for online use and provide users with topics focused on enabling employees to feel connected to the company for the anniversary events commemorating Rakuten’s founding. Plans also call for a standardized online version of this well-being chat tool to be developed soon so that more companies can also benefit from its use. When it is ready for general release, we will also announce it on this website.