It facilitates and accelerates international business expansion while reducing the frequency of overseas business trips.


freee, a prominent Japanese startup and leader in cloud-based accounting tools, introduced tonari, an immersive life-sized communication system, in conjunction with the relocation of their new Tokyo headquarters. With tonari, freee’s Tokyo and Osaka offices are connected to create a flexible and unified environment where engineers can work from anywhere. freee’s attractive new workplace also serves as a powerful recruiting tool for engineering talent.


Inspiring teams to work better together with tonari

freee has been among Japan’s top 10 “Best Workplaces” for eight years running, thanks in part to an open, inspiring, and flexible work culture that encourages flatness and transparency. After experiencing physical and emotional distance during remote work and the pandemic, freee sought to create more face-to-face opportunities for its employees, and has invested in new workplaces and tools to promote engagement and a stronger sense of unity across the company.

In August 2022, freee relocated its Tokyo headquarters to Art Village Osaki Central Tower, and introduced tonari to connect to their Osaka office. By connecting areas near the engineering teams, tonari creates an environment where everyday communication, design brainstorming, collaborative programming, and mentorship can proceed naturally across locations.

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Comments from freee on how they use tonari

1. An environment for engineers to work together naturally

Left: Nomoto-san    Right: Inamura-san

Left: Nomoto-san Right: Inamura-san

“Bridging the gap between offline and online, tonari is an experience beyond what I expected. It makes me want to wave and call out to our members in Osaka! We talk and shape each other through tonari in situations that require close communication and abstract discussions, like when kicking off a new project. In the long run, we want to create an environment where team members can excel regardless of location.”

Inamura-san, Culture Tech Engineer, Tokyo

“We were impressed that we could immediately see who was in the Osaka office and call out to them. There are already requests from offices outside of Kansai to introduce tonari. I feel that tonari’s concept of solving problems naturally with technology is an attractive vision that engineers can relate to.”

Nomoto-san, HR & Culture Manager, Tokyo

2. Flexibility to work from Tokyo or Osaka

“I changed teams and started working more with the Osaka team in July of this year. Design is one of the tasks that I would like to do face-to-face, as it requires identifying requirements with the team. Having design and specification meetings between Tokyo and Osaka over tonari allowed everyone to quickly resolve any problems and, most importantly, gave me a sense of security with the team. In the future, I'll give moving to Osaka more thought (laughs).”

Senda-san, Engineer, Tokyo

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“I am the only one working in Osaka in a 5-person team, but I am thrilled to be able to feel the energy of the Tokyo team and work as one with them through tonari. freee is very flexible in allowing us to choose where we live and work.”

Yoko-san, Engineer, Osaka

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3. Collaboration, mentorship, and feedback

“I’ve been working remotely since I joined the company, and I felt lonely when I couldn’t ask questions immediately or when I needed help. Unlike video calls, tonari is refreshing because you can see the other party's entire body, as if you were actually meeting with them. I’m excited about the new styles of communication that will be enabled through tonari.”

Okuma-san, Engineer, Tokyo

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“When I use tonari and look back on my remote work, there are times where I think, ‘Maybe there are things I could have done better if I had been face-to-face.’ Doing routine work alone can be boring, and lead to loss of momentum. For generating ideas, a hybrid work style of coming to the office and working from home is ideal.”

Katahira-san, Engineer, Tokyo

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4. Team building across distant locations