Tokyo, Oct. 19, 2021. (Kyodo)

Suntory Unveils ‘The CEO’s Treat Machine’ to Foster Employee Interaction Post Covid

Suntory, the Japanese beverage maker, has debuted a workplace vending machine it hopes will ‘help restore interactions and creativity to offices and factories’ as the pandemic finally recedes. The machine dispenses free drinks when two employees scan their ID cards at the same time.

Tagged ‘the CEO’s treat machine’ Suntory is aiming to install 100 of the machines by 2022, rolling out across the country from Tokyo metropolitan area. The cost of the free drinks will be covered by the client firms, hence ‘the CEO’s treat’.

The Suntory vending machine concept emerged after the COVID-19 pandemic led to an increase in those working from home, consequently reducing interactions with bosses and colleagues. Suntory says it hopes the machines will increase opportunities for the kind of small talk that leads to creativity and new ideas

The client retains control of the freebies, however. The machines – they work as normal when two employees don’t arrive at them together – can be customized to limit the number of beverages an employee can get per day or limit the time or day of the week when the free drink service is offered, among other modifications.

The first machine, installed by Suntory at office supply manufacturer Kokuyo Co, was very well received:  97.8% of surveyed Kokuyo users said the vending machine ‘acted as a nice conversation starter’, with employees noting it was both ‘fun to use and raised office morale’. One respondent also said it had provided him with a chance to talk to a colleague for the first time in several years.

‘We want to create a little more happiness across a range of different offices,’ a senior Suntory official said.

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