A funny thing about Rakuten: Behind-the-scenes at work

Every spring when we welcome new graduates, or after we’ve acquired a company, I hear comments about this funny thing I do every Tuesday. I hear even more about it when new employees, who I like to call Rakutenians, learn that they too must do this funny thing.

What is this funny thing? I clean my desk!

I’ve written about this before. I always receive questions in the comments about this task. Some people ask why we don’t have staff to clean desks. Others ask why I am asking employees to take time away from their work day to perform such a job. There is a very good reason why all Rakutenians clean our desks every Tuesday morning.

Everything we do impacts the customer. Every little thing.

A clean office is much more than a nicety. A clean office is representative of who we are as a company. It says: We are all about the details, always, even when we think no one is looking.

The same thing strikes me when I walk behind-the-scenes at a hotel or a conference center, like I did at a Business Insider Ignition event in New York. In order to get to the stage, I followed the staff through the back hallways of the Time Warner Center. These back areas can tell you a lot about the standards of the team working at a venue (and I’m glad to report there was nothing untoward to report from that trip!). But it would not surprise you to know that hotels with dirty staff corridors often have a lower level of service from hotels with very clean staff hallways. I believe the same thing applies to the way a company keeps its offices. Just like a hotel’s back-of-house standards reflect on its service levels, office cleanliness has an impact on overall quality and the impression made on the customer.

Bad service is like a virus. Even if it happens to just 1% of customers, or even one customer, it is contagious. It can damage all of our collective efforts. Quality of service should be the No. 1 goal for everyone, all the time. To improve the quality of service, we need to work hard to improve ourselves.

That starts with the way in which we work, day to day. I want every office, every room and table to be clean, because it is a reflection of how serious we are about quality. And quality and customer satisfaction must always be our goals.

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