The future of workplaces in India

The future of workplaces in India

Ricardo Chacon cites the challenges of workplace design for talent retention...and the steps one could take to meet them

India has become the largest global destination for technology giants, attracting the likes of Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and almost 900 other multi-national IT companies. In parallel, the country’s impressive economic growth and social development programmes have helped raise a new breed of corporate leaders as well as young, ambitious, and well-educated professionals and entrepreneurs. These conditions have set the stage for profound changes in business demands and workplace expectations.

The rise of automation has disrupted traditional back-end and support services delivered in India, paving the way for innovation-led operations and a much more specialised workforce. As such, younger generations are expected to continue demanding improved work-life choices; that is, to have the ability to work with whomever, whenever, and wherever they see fit. And while such perks once seemed like a far-stretched dream for previous generations, this is now becoming a reality as a consequence of increasing competition among corporations to attract and retain the best talent.

The workplace then becomes a synergistic arena where workforce expectations, business demands, and local ecosystems intertwine harmoniously. With that in mind, we advise every organisation in India to take the following elements into serious consideration to leverage their workspaces as tools to undertake these new challenges, support their business evolution, and attract and retain talent.

1. Value-creating Design and Delivery strategies
What were once seen as purely cost-cutting office designs are swiftly changing to a conversation driven by value creation to improve the market position of the company, productivity of staff, and organisational culture. Traditional design briefs and requirements based on unilateral decisions must take into account the needs and wishes of the end-users. Workplace strategists are playing an increasingly important role in engaging with staff across an organisation before any sketch can be drawn to create the most personalised and effective work environment.

2. Challenging hierarchies and old-thinking
Hierarchy-based spaces with assigned private offices are being replaced by activity-based designs that prioritise collaboration, social interactions, and quiet zones for people to retreat and focus.

3. Increasing autonomy and choice
People will increasingly be detached from their traditional desks, thanks to the rapid integration of cloud-based technology and mobile devices into the workplace (laptops, smartphones, and other remote devices). The monotony of fixed desk-dominated offices with seas of workstations will change to an expanded variety of work settings designed for a broader set of activities and personalities.

4. Wellness
Fully enclosed buildings with deep floorplans and poor access to natural light are evolving with a more homely look and feel, balanced access to natural light, fresh air, spaces for relaxation and contemplation, and greenery. Organisations gradually recognise the importance of implementing internal policies that can sustain a healthier lifestyle for their people.

5. Flexibility for future changes
The increasing speed of business changes creates uncertainty and risks, causing sharp variations in headcount and organisational structures that may lead a company to adjust its existing facilities. Flexible spaces enable organisations to cope with spatial modifications at a low cost, helping them leverage modularity and behavioural strategies that include the likes of unassigned seating arrangements.

All in all, the continuous development of the local ecosystem dominated by progressive technology giants will create even more competition among organisations to attract and retain the best talent available in the Indian market. These pressing conditions, mixed with rapid technological improvements as well as workers’ expectations of a healthy work-life balance and increased flexibility, will transform workplace environments into creative hubs where social interactions and wellbeing will become the norm.

About the author:
Ricardo, originally a civil engineer from Costa Rica, combines his passion for academic research, problem-solving and business development to challenge the status quo in the corporate real estate industry. He holds a Master’s degree in International Construction and Project Management from Tsinghua University in Beijing, and is currently a workplace strategist for MMoser Associates in Bengaluru.

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