Facility Management

Building A Smart Workplace For Occupant Satisfaction

BW sits down with industry experts to discuss the approach and method to designing a smart workplace to optimise occupant satisfaction.

If an individual is to spend 9-10 hours of their day in one space, it is important to design the space in such a way that the individual feels safe and cared for. A space where their needs are met and the things that they require to perform at their highest are available to them. After all, the only way an individual can contribute their best is if they are provided with the best.

To discuss more about building these new spaces, BW spoke to Rahul Agarwal, Sr. Director of India Operations at Boston Consulting Group (BCG), Sanjay Mehta, Executive Director of Workplace Enablement at Grant Thornton Bharat (GT), Dr. Amit Kumar Gupta, Medical Director & Head (Quality) at HCL Healthcare (HCL) and Capt. Gaurav Bajetha, VP – Head of Global Workplace Infrastructure, Admin & Risk Management at Urban Company (UC), to get their insights on the topic of “Building a Smart Workplace for Occupant Satisfaction,” at the BW Facility Management Conference & Excellence Awards 2023 held on 30 May at Aloft, Aerocity, New Delhi.

Speaking on his own views as well as those of BCG, Agarwal commented on how creating an inclusive office is all about having spaces that cater to every purpose and requirement. Discussing the methods employed by the company when figuring out what changes to make, Agarwal said, “we talk to employees [and] understand [what] their requirements [are], almost 80 per cent of the organisation is asked [about] what they’d require.” While Agarwal expressed optimism in the future of smart spaces, he still has his feet planted in the reality of it all, “smart spaces are here to stay, it is growing,” he said, “but personally I think it is only limited to metro cities for now.”

Sanjay Mehta of Grant Thornton had an altogether different approach to the matter. According to Mehta, GT’s approach is more about designing a space which encompasses all types of employees – those in office, those working in hybrid and those who are permanently work from home, saying “Occupants are no longer physical occupants, it’s about the users.” Mehta also spoke on the role of technology in the workplace, saying “technology should enable people, not restrict them.” Additionally, Mehta mentioned that GT is testing a metaverse like induction for new joinees, which will allow newcomers to get a feel for the workspace as well as an idea of how different aspects and systems related to the space and the company work.

Capt. Gaurav Batheja of the startup Urban Company, spoke along similar lines, “before even designing a workplace, we take a step back and first understand who the occupants are.” Stressing on the importance of catering to the current generation, he said, “I’d rather think of the workplace from the mind of a Gen-Z, what do they want? vs What do I want or someone who is in their 40s or 50s will want. It is important to understand the brain of a Gen-Z.” Batheja also commented on some other aspects of designing inclusive workspaces, speaking on how there is always the pressure of keeping operating costs low, “we have to do more with less.”

The last of the panellists was Dr. Amit Kumar Gupta of HCL Healthcare, who brought up an important point on how besides physical health, emotional health is also an important aspect to consider. Speaking on his company’s values, he said, “it is not just about the immediate employee, the employee’s family is also important.” He continued with an example of how if an employee’s child is sick, the employee should be cared for and be made to feel better. An interesting metric he used was that instead of using the “return on investment” (or RoI), a company should consider “value on investment” (or VoI). Dr. Gupta also pointed out that HCL Healthcare’s Net Promoter Score (NPS) is one of the highest in healthcare.

The unanimous agreement among all the panellists centred around the idea that an office environment has a direct link to the business impact it will have, thus, it is important to make sure that a company’s employees are taken care of, that it should be a two-way street of giving and taking between the company and the employee.

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