Project: HSBC Bangalore East Campus
Project Director: Naveed Khan, Arcadis
M&E Consultant: IBS Gulf
Project Area: 300,000 sq ft
Main Contractor: RMZ
HSBC is globally known for applying technology and innovation in its banking service in order to make customers’ and employee’s experience simpler, better and faster. “Whenever we set out to build a new office, we try to create outstanding experiences,” points out Arun Kumar, country head, Corporate Real Estate, HSBC India. The organisation’s workspace infrastructure is a manifestation of its forward-thinking approach and processes.
Openwork is the company’s universal approach when it comes to managing offices. It involves three levels of transformation — workspace, workstyles and technology. Established as a clear guideline called Global Workplace Standards (GWS), the strategy enables the bank to achieve and support best practices with a consistent approach in design, quality and efficiency across all HSBC offices. The guidelines, according to Kumar, facilitate the creation of a high quality and consistent experience that delivers the ethos of the HSBC brand and encourages efficient use of the office portfolio space.
“Openwork Framework recognises that different people have different needs. Our workplace design looks to mirror this by focusing on providing a more flexible, productive and collaborative working culture through a mixture of space, facilities and technology, and creating an environment where employees feel they can contribute their best work,” reveals Kumar.
At HSBC, the overriding thought is that “work is what you do, not where you are” and this approach unifies all its offices. The recently launched Centre of Expertise (COE) in Bengaluru is a fine example of this philosophy. With a clear brief to “design a building that enables people to be at their best at all times”, the architects and HSBC’s in-house team delivered a project that is truly impressive. Spread over 3,00,000 sq ft, the campus is on the outskirts of Bengaluru and offers state-of-the-art amenities, enhanced technology and an agile work environment that gives employees the choice and flexibility of where, how and when to work. The emphasis on a people-centric workspace is hard to miss. “It has been well-documented that flexible workspaces improve employees’ mental wellbeing, resulting in higher productivity, performance and satisfaction. Our staff is our most important asset, and so our offices cater to all possible needs of the modern worker. From hosting and socialising to allowing private moments despite an open-plan setup,” explains the country head (CRE).
Equipped to suit both individual and team needs, the workplace plans are informed by an iterative design process with consistent user engagement and feedback. The agile workplace model provides a combination of formal and informal work areas to suit employees’ needs across various functions, while also championing the use of technology to better engage talent and encourage collaboration. Ergonomics takes a front seat too — adjustable workstations and well-planned circulation are considered essential to the design scheme, and there is a focus on employee wellbeing by planning for natural light and good ventilation.
Kumar also mentions: “Anecdotally, we’ve heard employees say that they are excited about coming to the new East campus in Bengaluru, and feel that they have better work-life integration by having access to facilities and conveniences such as flexible seating, next generation tools and technology, gym, recreation room and a variety of cafes and restaurants, that makes life easier and more enjoyable.”
Given the scale of such projects and its subsequent operations, efficiency is only possible when all stakeholders as well as service providers and vendors are on the same page. The synergy required — demanded, even — is absolutely crucial. No doubt internal and external stakeholder engagement is essential to a real estate portfolio but Kumar believes one of the biggest questions about stakeholder engagement is “what are you hoping to achieve through your engagement efforts”?
“To me, fundamentally, engagement is about dialogue, and recognising that success is dependent on multiple constituencies. It’s about partnerships and creating open communications and aligned interests wherever possible. I always look to build meaningful partnerships with stakeholder groups to let them know that I care about issues important to them, and strengthen relationships,” he explains.
Having successfully completed many HSBC offices, the company takes great pride in its stakeholder engagement process. The recently completed campus is a testament. “It was delivered in true team spirit, in collaboration with multiple teams and stakeholders who gave their 100% throughout the project’s lifecycle,” says Kumar.
Finding an effective way to foster stakeholder engagement is winning half the battle. However, the advent of technology keeps redefining the nature and manner in which workspace functions. Keeping abreast with these changes can be a challenge. Kumar agrees that in today’s work environment, designing for change and impermanence, including infrastructure, is a must. Rapid advances in technology are freeing people from the traditional office environment, and HSBC understands that no two people work in the same way. “The answer can be found at the intersection between people, places and technology. So, everything we deliver as part of our workplace experience is aligned to three guiding principles — efficiency, productivity and flexibility,” shares Kumar.
Built on the principles of innovation, openness, sustainability and flexibility, all HSBC offices are future proofed to meet the evolving, modern and mobile workforce as well as maximise opportunities for creativity and collaboration. Best-in-class infrastructure and amenities as well as enhanced technology are paired with state-of-the-art collaboration tools such as flexible seating, wireless presentation areas, innovation labs, cloud-based environments, interactive whiteboards and display screens, mother’s rooms, prayer rooms, recreation areas, gyms and a wide variety of cafes, restaurants, to create a holistic environment. The staff is encouraged to be agile and efficient, being seamlessly connected with their teams, other businesses and external contacts, regardless of where they are located.
For such complex designs and large campuses to be successfully functioning on-ground, day-in and day-out, requires a certain streamlining of operational practices within the company. That’s where the role of the facility manager becomes indispensable. HSBC has put measures in place to ensure optimum service delivery as per their Openwork strategy. Elaborating on it, Kumar says, “Certain aspects of FM operations viz introduction of floor ambassadors, smart cleaning techniques and e-maintenance checklist have been customised to enhance user experience and promote wellness in our agile work environment.”
Consistency and the drive to improve keeps HSBC facility managers on a constant pursuit of excellence. They benchmark their progress through a robust feedback framework of half-yearly customer survey, monthly meetings with business stakeholders and ongoing feedback through floor ambassadors. The feedback received is put into various buckets — long term, short term and quick solutions — and addressed accordingly. “We also take into account the turn-around-time (TAT) of tickets raised by employees on the portal for quick resolutions,” mentions Kumar.
Lastly, Kumar highlights how sustainability is at the forefront of the company’s agenda. “HSBC buildings are developed to LEED standards, in line with the company’s global sustainability strategy and priorities to reduce carbon footprint through environmental efficiency initiatives and smart technology.”
Awareness on sustainability has made companies like HSBC understand the significance of building in relation to the local environment, local communities and those who occupy the space. Whether it’s because of new legislation, cost control, changes in the environment or simply the desire to “do the right thing”, HSBC recognises the value of engaging in ethical corporate behaviour.
Internally, the campuses follow HSBC’s Sustainability Strategy, specifically endorsed by the 10 objectives that form the Sustainable Operations Strategy 2020 — REDUCE. Some relevant measures include: supply chain collaboration (sustainable savings through efficiency and innovation); energy (reduce annual energy consumption per employee by 1.2MWh); renewables (increase energy consumption from renewables to 25% from zero); waste (use less and recycle 100% of office and electronic waste); and green buildings (design, build and run energy-efficient and sustainable campuses to the highest international standards). Outside the realm of office management, HSBC partners with, and financially supports, recognised organisations such as EarthWatch and WWF that promote these ethics.
“Sustainability and green building practices substantially reduce the negative environmental impacts caused by HSBC’s buildings, through high-performance delivered by design, construction and operational best practices. As an added benefit, green design and operations reduce operating costs, enhance a building’s marketability and increase staff productivity,” shares Kumar. Backed by its extensive workforce management strategy and its openness to evolve and adapt, HSBC demonstrates how an exceptional in-house team of experts can passionately run the daily operations of a company of its scale with ease.