A few years ago, college graduates looking to join a workplace after completing their education looked at designations, salary packages and location as priorities for job satisfaction. While, today, much of the prerequisites remain the same, an important facet has been added in recent years – the quintessential office atmosphere.
After witnessing videos of uber-cool offices in Silicon Valley on social media (case in point: the viral Google workplace videos that set modern-day goals) it is natural that graduates enter their career with high expectations. Start-ups in India are recognising this and, with entrepreneurs getting younger and more aware, are ready to woo talent with this undeniable selling point.
From hiring reputed architects to construct tech-savvy workstations and interior designers to provide minimalist décor that is high on feng shui, to introducing initiatives that brighten up a dull day at work, Chennai’s offices are also catching up on the makeover trend.
Freshworks, one of the city’s most highly-regarded firms in this respect is a prime example of designing the office with the young workforce in mind. “We have a really vibrant atmosphere that is aesthetic and full of bright colours that really resonates with us. But what really provides impetus is the high amount of flexibility – there are no fixed workstations, and plenty of space such as little hubs in corners or closed shells where people can work depending on the amount of privacy needed. We also have a cricket pitch, a golf course, pool tables and so on, all aimed at reducing stress and improving productivity in a collaborative work environment,” said Nanditha Raghavan, a marketing manager at the customer engagement software company.
Aarthi Srinath, partner at Inception Business Services, is much-loved by her team for raising their company’s reputation in the city as one with a favourable work atmosphere. One of its key features is that the office is pet-friendly.
“I believe in work-life integration. Unless one’s work is an integral part of one’s life, you won’t get the best out of people at the workplace. For me, my office is my happy place and that is how I want it to be for the people in my team, too. Whether it is holding celebrations, doing up your desk to show your personality, organising dress code days, team outings or even bringing pets to work. We want the office to be a natural extension of our team members’ lives. That way, they will look forward to come to the office every day,” Aarthi said.
Digital marketing firm Echovme is also known for its innovative measures to keep the brand’s social media presence always vibrant, especially during occasions such as Women’s Day to make all their female employees feel special by organising themed events in their honour. Recently though, they stepped it up a notch with an initiative titled ‘10 Days of Happiness’ to improve team-bonding.
Founder Sorav Jain said, “This was a project to ensure there is an excitement that we can share as a team. We had internal games, sports activities, movies, lunch, ice cream day and more to keep the team motivated.”
Software development company Zoho Corporation is also a much-coveted name in the city, with the brand attracting suitors from across India. “When a company goes out of its way to ensure the comfort and safety of employees, it really makes us happy. There are even people placed outside campus to ensure no untoward accidents happen. We also get plenty of opportunities to unwind. For instance, employees bring in musical instruments to work and start jamming in the middle of the day when they need a breather,” said product marketer Sarvesh CK.
Given that these are mostly young companies who are trying to change the image of Chennai’s ‘traditional’ office scene, Chargebee, one of the most recognised start-ups in the city, recently launched a campaign #ChennaiBeyondStereotypes to dispel the notion that the city’s offices and atmosphere are boring.
The rise of co-working spaces in the city has also provided an opportunity for founders of companies to provide perks and benefits to employees that would have seemed out-of-place barely a decade ago. K Vinukarthi, who started ‘Ping’, his event management company a year ago, calls in a yoga therapist once a fortnight to let his staff stretch their muscles and even help them relax with a quick shoulder rub to de-stress. “You would be surprised at how far it goes towards employees feeling more comfortable. We also have a few PlayStation consoles with bean bags, noise-cancelling headphones and games like FIFA and WWE for staff to take a break,” he said.
Everything can be customised from privacy options to additional facilities such as usage of the fridge, gym, therapy, office runners, and so on. A few of these facilities are open at all hours, a perfect spot for not just creative minds that work best at night, but also for those who want complete solitude. Priya Goutham, co-founder of Two Trees in Teynampet, said, “We began our venture out of necessity as we couldn’t find any space in the city that wasn’t cramped. We made it a 24*7 option since people who want to work night shifts should also be taken into account.”
WSquare, a space exclusively for women in Chennai started by entrepreneurs Vandana Ramanathan and Jinal Patel, is a huge hit thanks to options like a crèche, on-call doctor, groceries delivered to desk and ergonomic chairs for pregnant women or new mothers. The initiative, a first in India, also lets women bring in their babies or kids to the office. it is also nanny-friendly. “More than the security offered, it’s the fact that they are able to connect to other like-minded, driven professionals in the same city that makes us click,” said co-founder Vandhana.