Savouring a hot cup of coffee while sitting on a bean bag and working on her laptop, 28-year-old Neha seems to be calm and composed, even as she tries to find a solution to a complex work-related issue. Towards her right, a group of young employees are playing foosball, cheering each other every time the ball hits a target. For an outsider, it might appear that a fun evening session is on in full swing or that they have landed on the sets of Indian version Friends TV series. However, it is a full-fledged business day at a corporate office. The colorful open office space is equipped with swings, uniquely designed furniture and stylish shelves to create a cool environment. This ‘chilled out’ workspace culture is a global phenomenon. Indian metropolitan cities are not immune to the spiralling trend. The current generation prefer working in places that reflect their mood and have a certain positive vibe.
According to a research by the Knoll workplace research, the startup communities in many cities around the world prefer a more holistic approach regarding workplaces and consider them as one the key features. It also suggests that the backlog of work can be reduced to almost 100% with this approach and helps in increasing the commitment of the employees. Every organisation foresees to define their office as ‘home’ which makes it more appealing and pleasing to the employees.
Prominent companies like Google, Apple, Facebook, P&G, and Adobe have opted for employee-friendly, chilled out and flexible work spaces. These companies have ‘cool’ office furniture, flexible timings for the employees to work and comfortable work stations. Some of these offices even provide organic food, prepared by trained chefs for the employees!
Silicon Valley is the initial point of the trend of chilled out and flexible workspace. During the dotcom boom, most of the companies in Silicon Valley required their employees to work round the clock. The companies came up with the idea of turning the offices into more comfortable spaces for the employees. These companies have been a huge influence on India Inc. and with the birth of several startups over the last decade, they have decided to have chilled out workspaces for their young employees. Though Bengaluru initially housed such businesses and tops the list of it, Chennai provides a platform for many such companies. They provide worthy opportunities for the freshers to gain experience as soon as they step out from colleges and universities.
Zoho Corporation is one such organisation based out of Chennai, which has unique work culture. Employees are given comfy furniture, there is round-the-clock availability of food, can play some cool indoor sports in the campus, multiple HD televisions and have flexible work timings. Here, no employee is micromanaged by anyone. They are provided space and enough time to complete an assignment or a task. One of the employees who had worked there has posted about his experience working with Zoho. He has described the work culture, scope and competition in the company. He says, “the first and the best thing according to me at Zoho is the culture. Standout aspects of Zoho culture are- free food, round the clock snacks and bean bags, recreation room with facilities like HD tv, table tennis, flexible timings and much more.” Gayathri, an employee from Zoho says, “timings are flexible in Zoho. You just have to maintain eight hours a day and no employee is asked to come at particular time. Also, we are allowed to bring our own cuddle toys and belongings from home to make the work place feel like home.”
Freshworks, which was once known as Freshdesk, is a software company which was started in the year 2010, has mini golf course, relaxing corners, indoor games room and more. The organisation’s motive is to introduce simple software to all the businesses, that is easy to set up.
Though, these companies aim to provide healthy and pleasant work environment for the employees and increase their efficiency in the process, there are chances that employees might end up getting a little too lax and fail to deliver at the right time. Open work stations might lead to privacy issues for some. While relaxed work atmosphere might reduce stress, it can also be a death knell for healthy competition among employees that intends to bring out the best among them.
Traditional workspaces and offices are considered boring by the young entrepreneurs and employees are used to relaxed global workspaces. Many corporate experts believe that providing convenient workspace would increase productivity in the employees. This has been proven by many prominent multinational companies which are situated around the world. India Inc. is taking baby steps towards the chilled-out workplace culture. It would take ample time to catch up with the existing trends in global work culture. Though it comes with its own set of challenges, relaxed corporate workculture have laid down the path for many success stories in the corporate houses.