Ashish Jauhri, Director – Design, DSP Design Associates
The global corporate office environment is perhaps the most evolving space of all. It has to keep up with the changing demands of both users and the industry. The Millennials are the new user groups and dynamic spaces are the key focus areas for corporate office designers.
New campuses, of the likes of Apple’s new campus at Cupertino, reinforce corporate culture where the built form helps to forge a strong corporate identity. Corporate campuses are evolving by changing their stodgy image with disconnected buildings to a collaborative community image by consolidating operations under one roof, focussing on interactions, and promoting a sense of community. We are witnessing new trends towards bringing the outdoor indoors; creating vertical campus philosophy by designing vertical spaces that is interconnected, collaborative and referred to as innovative workplaces.
The cubicles are fading away and are being increasingly replaced by non-assigned seating, thereby increasing the percentage of collaborative spaces. New office furniture is being experimented that allow flexibility in sitting as well as standing postures along with more lounge furniture and more informality being induced. There is also a new emphasis on the introduction of theme based spaces which illustrates context, colour, texture, eclecticism and more personalized spaces.
Continuous innovations in façade and BMS technology are helping to create more energy performance envelopes. Solar and wind are being looked at affordable technologies to be deployed for commercial campuses to harness renewable energy sources and corporate are buying the idea of setting up solar and wind farms on campus or off campus to gain from such approaches there by doing their bit towards the environment.
Corporate Design in India is presently at the threshold of a major jolt! The workforce is increasingly becoming global and a bigger percentage has worked internationally. They are aware, well-travelled and demand equality of environment and benefits that their counterparts in other parts of the world are getting. The corporate, depending on their type of business, are redefining their work place strategies, looking at better efficiencies, providing amenities to their employees and promoting collaboration within employees.
Many new technology start-ups in India are frequently seeing the new office as a wide open space with exposed ceilings and minimal individual office space, with an emphasis on collaborative spaces and flexibility. Employees, especially Millennials, don’t want to be closed up in an office or tied to a desk. They desire the flexibility to work in a variety of modes—sitting, standing, or interacting with their peers. Also, companies are looking for flexible spaces that can accommodate additional workforce as it grows or more collaboration space for various projects.
Even speculative commercial office developers are looking at providing amenity spaces to attract smaller tenants who may not be able to afford such spaces alone but are happy to share them in a campus environment. Global focus undoubtedly is India due to availability of good quality workforce coupled with solid growth prospective of the economy. A new age of local start-ups having very good valuations and funding are seeking world class facilities and even hiring global workforce to strengthen their capability. Current trends in corporate offices, especially information technology, research & development, health and financial services in cities like Bangalore, Hyderabad and Pune are seen as growing fastest as compared to the rest of the country.
Closed cubicles, closed meeting rooms, restricted movement of employees within offices and office complexes, dedicated work hours including break hours are a thing of the past for Indian corporate architecture and design environment. Even the open office 6’x6’x4’6” high cubicles in an open space environment is being challenged today by a lot of Indian corporate to give way to new office planning principles that focuses on inspiration, belongingness, collaboration, inclusivity and flexibility.
Indian new age office is now being perceived as a shared, collaborative, community space which caters to a life within the workplace and focus on providing the same comfortable home like environment to their employees. More and more companies are seeking to evolve themselves and hire designers that take them through a change management process while they reorganize themselves at the same location or more to a newer better facility hence trending towards consolidation of their workforce, instead of a more fragmented location approach.
The role of a corporate architecture and design cannot be emphasized more. Design plays a vital role in the way employees perform and has proved to have direct benefit on the performance and hence the productivity of the company. The emphasis on the need for amenities in office complexes has proven its worth for employee health and engagement by corporate. A new approach is already making way in the corporate architecture and design philosophy, be it a start-up, an established multinational, an Indian corporate or even a speculative commercial office developer, which is redefining the way office spaces are perceived and are undoubtedly challenging the global office design approach for its own space in terms of function, context and aspiration.