CXOToday has engaged in an exclusive interview with Mr. Rajat Kapur, Regional Managing Director, North India & UAE, The Executive Centre
- How according to you has the concept of workplace changed in the last few years? How has TEC adapted to the change?
The flexible workspace industry has seen tremendous growth over the last few years fuelled by the adoption of the hub and spoke model across industries to diversify risk and make CAPEX more efficient. In the last few years the business community has endured a global pandemic, geopolitical unrest and increasing volatility in the global financial market, this has highlighted the need for agility in business operations. It has also brought to light the importance of employees safety and well-being. Organisations across industries are including flexible workspace strategies as hybrid models into their existing real estate holdings. At The Executive Centre, we are banking on sustainable growth plans to ensure our business decisions are guided by consumer behaviour data. We are expanding within the markets that we are already present in to cater to the growing demand for flexible workspaces. Ensuring that we raise the bar for quality spaces with equal importance for both privacy and collaboration, our spaces are geared with amenities like fitness centres, mothers care rooms, wellness rooms, libraries and gaming zones. We are also constantly delivering enterprise solutions for our trusted patrons which are bespoke designed office spaces for individual clients that are exclusively designed, built and operated for them, giving the organisation the commercial benefit of flexible workspaces while retaining their exclusivity and privacy. TEC has recently invested over 200 Cr in the India market adding new centres in different micro markets.
- What are some of the best workspace strategies that organisations should adopt to increase employee engagement?
Workspace strategies, much like technology are ever evolving and hence need to be agile to accommodate the next iteration of design. Exploring different hybrid work models that allows employees to choose their location of work according to their functionality is key. Technology can play a key role in connecting people working in a hybrid model and fostering collaboration. It can be used to show who will be in the office and who will be working from home, allowing employees to choose when to go in and book a desk to get the most collaborative work accomplished. Through machine learning and analytics, data can be gathered on employee behaviors, work styles and schedules to help employers make strategic decisions on optimum space utilization and improving work-life balance. Innovation aided by technology has changed office design to assist the new-age workforce in achieving better productivity through enhanced user experience. Artificial intelligence, mobility solutions and automation are the building blocks to accelerate employee engagement.
- What are some of the organisational methods for attracting and retaining GenZ and millennial employees as the future workforce?
India Inc. is seeing a shift in its workforce and with this comes the need to factor in the new demographic of the workforce, after millennials, the composition of the workforce will be dominated by Gen Z. Flexibility has become a working requirement for employees of all generations, with Gen Z acting as a weathervane. While organisations in India Inc gear up to welcome this new workforce, the office becomes the first reflection of the change in organisational culture. Talent acquisition in the current market is competitive and requires organisations to understand and cater to the demands of the Gen Z workforce, this requires agility built into all business operations including workspace design, flexibility, and locations. Flexible workspaces help organisations across industries access new talent pool from different regions, including Tier II cities. This aids the company attract fresh talent and in the long run will also help in addressing the topological divide in the country.
- How is the current scenario of workplace tech impacting the employees’ decisions to come to office? What are the trends you are witnessing across your centres in India?
The current workforce has seen an accelerated change in employee behaviour and how the office is utilised. With an extended period of working from home of over 18months, many employees had moved back to their hometowns for over a year to work from Tier II cities. However, this year has seen most of the workforce move back to metro cities to step into the office, this has come with some resistance. Employees are finding it hard to separate professional and personal time with some choosing to leave their jobs due to discomfort of working from a fixed office location again, leading to a spike in attrition rate. Organisations are opting for flexible workspace strategies along with integrated workspace tech to offer its employees multiple touch points within the city and coworking options in Tier II cities in order to retain current talent and attract talent pool from new regions as well. Large corporates are revaluating the tech used in their business operations to ensure that they are easy to access and can be flexible to cater to business continuity. Apps to access multiple plug and play desks across different touch points in the city, easy and simple user interface, communication about the availability of health and social amenities, connecting workforce across regions on virtual community forms, gamification of targets and virtual acknowledgment of work are a few examples of through which companies are increasing active usage of technology and incentivising employees to step into office even if they are across various locations. Technology process are also being curated to cater to different generation’s working together in the current workforce to accelerate active usage and make productivity location agnostic.
- According to you, in the not-so-distant future, what role will the metaverse play in the workplace?
The virtual layer of flexible office space is a natural extension to the coworking industry. Currently, a growing number of businesses believe that the solution to make workforce feel at work is metaverse. Several companies from big Tech to new startups, have included this as it brings down real estate cost and offers design freedom. However, it is too soon to tell if this interest in the new virtual platforms is sustainable, post two years of working from home, most organisations want to have the workforce stepping back into the physical workspace while keeping their options open about exploring virtual platforms like the metaverse.
- In a post-pandemic scenario, what are the challenges faced by workspace providers in terms of integrating technology?
Organisations have had to revaluate workspace priorities in the last few years and refocus on issues of employee safety and stability. Using latest technology to monitor, cater and provide health and safety protocols for employees has been the focus. Additionally, using technology to set up processes that enforce safer user behaviour within the physical office has also been a challenge. Facial recognition systems and thermal cameras or scanners have been integrated into every office design as they can be used to mark attendance and detect body temperatures automatically when employees enter the office. This helps the companies in maintaining the safety of its employees at its maximum level. Due to the changing models of how organisations work, companies are laying greater emphasis on ensuring data security. Since companies have started storing data on the cloud, it opens data security threats. With the help of technology, companies can create a robust data security system that can maintain high-level security without the need of being physically present at the office. However, the leading challenge with integrating technology is still the same as always, which is, increasing active using among employees. Without active usage, the best processes fail to deliver results, gamification of workflow has helped organisation to close this gap and keep employees engaged.
- How technology advanced workspaces can help in employee retention?
Post-pandemic organisations are acclimating to the changing business needs and demands of the workforce, with rise in attrition rates and adoption of trends like the ‘gig economy’ large corporates are focused on utilising existing technology to ensure talent retention and business continuity. Gamification of workflow and targets has been the leading trend adopted by organisations to keep employees across geographies engaged and invested in productivity. The physical workspace and virtual work platforms are used to advertise these tools and increase active usage. Internal workforce application are used as the first point of communication to share plug and play work desks available to employees across multiple touchpoints in the city, share information about available amenities, increase a sense of community and stability with employees, internal social media forums and also using virtual identities that allow employees to express their concerns in redressal forums.