As you can imagine, getting groups of friends together in a relatively small karaoke room isn't exactly the best way to spend your time during a global pandemic.

Not only is it difficult to sing while wearing a mask, but intense singing and lively conversation over drinks result in more microdroplets spreading, which further increases the risk of COVID-19 infection.

With many of the usual customers staying away due to these risks, Japanese karaoke chains have suffered a loss in revenue.

To survive during these difficult pandemic times, many of them have been forced to come up with other uses for their rooms...

Big Echo's private office space rental

For example, Big Echo, a karaoke chain run by Daiichikosho Corporation, has launched a service called "Office Box" allowing customers to use their rooms as private offices, including an all-you-can-drink plan, for its 500 stores nationwide.

In the karaoke rooms, electrical outlets and Wi-Fi are available, and some rooms are equipped with projectors.

Not only are the rooms thoroughly cleaned and disinfected as a measure against COVID-19, but there is also a ventilation system running at all times.

Although karaoke machines are off-limits, this is a good deal considering the low cost of using a private room.

As an ongoing problem in these pandemic times, company employees who have been told to telework may not always be able to do so at their home. For example, they may have a partner or family member(s) who also need to telework, or they may have small children or pets preventing them from concentrating on their work, especially if they live in a small apartment. Therefore, teleworking in a private space like this with comfy seating, free WiFi and all-you-can-drink soft drinks can be an attractive solution.

© Daiichi Kosho Co., Ltd.

© Daiichi Kosho Co., Ltd.

Using the Telespe app makes expensing a breeze!

Big Echo recommends this plan not only for personal use, but also for corporate use.

The Big Echo Gotanda Higashiguchi Eki-mae Store and Shinagawa Konan-guchi Eki-mae stores in Tokyo use the Telespe app to easily handle reservations and payments.

© Telework Technologies Co., Ltd.

If you're using it privately and your company agrees to reimburse you, simply register your credit card in the app. A receipt will be issued via email, allowing you to expense the fee to your company.

Companies can also sign up for a corporate plan in which usage fees of all the approved users are paid on the 25th of the following month. This saves employees the trouble of paying out of pocket upfront.

Approaches such as this provide solutions to the unique problems brought about by the pandemic. They'll surely be of use to more people as time goes on.

By - grape Japan editorial staff.