India Inc. Goes Global with Open Offices

Sukhdeep Aurora, Chief People Officer – ANAROCK Property Consultants

Open offices are a new-age commercial spaces trend which is catching up across the globe, including in India. Improving wireless technology to suit changing business requirements is truly an enabler for this transformation.

Millennials and globe-trotters today account for a large and ever-increasing share of the Indian working population – they operate on a very collaborative wavelength and are, by and large, not at home in the traditional cubicles model that so far defined most Indian office spaces.

To cater to the evolving mindset of a Gen Next workforce – and to achieve better productivity and employee retention – an increasing number of progressive firms are now transforming their offices into trendy, happening, open spaces that promote innovation and collaboration.

Advantages of the Open Office Culture:

  • Employees can interact and collaborate easily, which not only improves productivity but also fosters a stronger sense of camaraderie
  • Colleagues can discuss and seek advice without scheduling formal meetings
  • Collaborative offices are vibrant spaces that emit positive energy and therefore uplift the innovation quotient
  • Making the spaces where employees spend a significant portion of their day more vibrant and energetic makes them look forward to hitting the office
  • Open offices reduce the cost of construction as walls, cubicles, etc. are no longer needed
  • Improved flow of air and light reduce operating costs in the long run.
  • Open offices make for better utilization of spaces so that they can accommodate more employees.

The Indian open office trend was spearheaded by IT/ITeS firms. This is not only because many of the above advantages are central concepts to their success, but also because they are populated by young people who are fully-aligned with this concept. By now, many other corporate businesses have followed suit and open offices have become the latest rage in commercial spaces across India Inc.

Apart from the above-mentioned advantages they offer, there are also various critical rationales at play when Indian corporates adopt the open office plan.

With rising property costs, many firms have been consolidating offices to achieve better economies of scale. More corporate spaces are being developed as open offices since their superior design and structure promote innovation and convey an attractive youthful ethos.

Striving towards Global Standards

Global IT giants like Google and Facebook have taken the concept of open offices to an entirely new level. The transition is a lot more gradual in India – here, New Age office concepts must tactfully coexist with more traditional ones before they eventually can replace them.

Also, there is no doubt that the open office format is not suitable for each and every conceivable business. However, the need for change is very apparent, and corporate India is waking up to it.

In the constant quest to attract and retain qualified and highly collaborative millennials and younger professionals, many companies are now revamping their brand strategies to depict a more youthful and inclusive image.

These efforts include repurposing existing office spaces to display alignment with progressive office environment concepts. We are witnessing this trend in a variety of business fields which have collaboration and youthful, tech-savvy talent as their cornerstones for success.

More and more businesses are embracing the benefits of open offices, and this concept has become a key success tool for fostering a young and enthusiastic workforce brimming with energy and enthusiasm to create something path-breaking. Innovative open offices help to attract and retain such talent.

Open Offices – Investments, Not Added Costs

The new type of open offices may seem to be capital intensive due to the vibrantly designed interiors, cutting-edge facilities, break-out areas and other innovative workplace design factors.

However, in the long run, open offices are more cost-effective not only in terms of reduced cost of operations but also via improved employee retention.

Also, the reduced use of walls, cubicles, meeting rooms, etc. can actually compensate for the fit-out costs while simultaneously rendering the office vibrant and ‘happening’.

While the overall demand for modern offices is robust in the larger cities, many successful companies are also looking to expand into the smaller cities. Land and development costs are lower in tier II/III cities, and developing built-to-suit open office spaces in such cities makes a lot of financial sense.

The Perfect Brand Entrenchment Medium

Land and development costs will always play a role in decisions of what kinds of offices to deploy or occupy. However, another factor is the brand standing of large company chains.

Large corporates want to be known for an excellent working environment regardless of where they open up or expand into, and consider a certain consistency across the board important.

This is why standardized open office plans are usually not city-specific but brand-specific choices, even including the company’s brand colours in the overall office design.

The psychology of brand colours is well-known – they play an important part of creating a strong and lasting brand impact, and the potential-laden canvas that an open office format affords cannot be ignored.

Open offices are therefore not only investments into workplace comforts, conveniences and productivity, but also into the brand itself.

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