Article: PepsiCo sees a willful increase in employees opting to work from office – CHRO explains how

Employee Engagement

PepsiCo sees a willful increase in employees opting to work from office – CHRO explains how

For a people-centric workplace, understanding employee preferences is crucial. In the post-pandemic era, they prioritise work-life balance and flexibility in environment and hours, highlighted Pavitra Singh.
PepsiCo sees a willful increase in employees opting to work from office – CHRO explains how

The world as we know it today still holds the allure of the traditional office space, serving as a timeless symbol of collaboration, camaraderie, and innovation. However, in the push to return to the office, it's imperative to recognise that compelling employees to resume in-person work may not yield the desired results. Rather than enforcing mandates, organisations have a unique opportunity to reimagine the workplace experience, crafting an environment so compelling that employees are naturally drawn back to the office. 

Tech giants like Cognizant, IBM, Infosys, X and several others have expressed fervent enthusiasm for bringing employees back to the office. Yet, the true essence of progress lies not in coercion but in creating an office infrastructure and culture so inviting that employees willingly choose to return. By focusing on enhancing the office environment, fostering a sense of community, and investing in amenities that prioritise employee well-being, organisations can cultivate a workplace that becomes a destination rather than an obligation. 

During an exclusive interview with People Matters, Pavitra Singh, CHRO of PepsiCo India, discussed the varied needs and preferences of employees. She underscored the importance of engaging employees in the design process of their new headquarters, which has contributed to fostering a social and collaborative atmosphere in the office. Additionally, Singh highlighted the significance of providing a combination of remote and in-person options and customising the office experience to align with individual motivations. This approach enables organisations to achieve a balance that optimizes productivity, engagement, and satisfaction.

Excerpts from the interview: 

Could you share insights into the process of designing PepsiCo's new country headquarters in Gurugram, particularly in terms of how employee feedback and preferences were considered?

Listening to employees played a key role in designing the PepsiCo India headquarters in Gurugram, which became operational in early 2022. The pandemic brought a major shift in the working styles of employees around the world. To achieve a ‘Work that works’ environment, we conducted surveys to understand the requirements of our employees, where comfort was their top priority, followed by flexibility and fun. 

The office space was designed on the concept that employees thrive when they are given the option to choose their work settings and are not compelled to go to the office every day. It needed to be a place of of joy, vibrancy & comfort and the primary vision behind the design was to create a home away from home, a space that employees can be themselves in, where one gets the flexibility and freedom to be oneself, and where everyone, as a team creates, collaborates, connects, and celebrates. 

How does PepsiCo's new office support and accommodate the needs of a hybrid work culture, considering the increasing demand for flexibility in where and how work is conducted?

PepsiCo India’s Headquarter in Gurugram is uniquely designed keeping in mind the mental and physical wellbeing of our employees, requirements of a hybrid workspace that motivates and encourages them, allowing creativity and productivity to flow. As an organisation, we understand the complexities and importance of a balance between personal and work life for everyone. Usage of cutting-edge technologies and adopting collaboration tools allows the new office to facilitate hybrid work culture that helps integrating work and life. 

While employees have the flexibility to work from home few days a week, many are choosing to come to office for better connect and camaraderie at the workplace and seeking a change in environment that helps keep spirits high.  The office has been build keeping in mind different cohorts including kids who love to visit our office during their summer/ winter breaks.  We do encourage family members to come to the office to connect and celebrate, especially key milestones. 

Can you describe the range of amenities and facilities available in the new office that contribute to creating a productive and comfortable work environment for employees?

Employee safety and well-being are top priorities at PepsiCo India, where great thought and care have been given to the smallest of details, keeping flexibility and comfort of the employee at the core. The office was set up keeping 5 key parameters in mind: 

Office That Breathes - Fluid layout, open-plan aesthetic fosters a sense of expansiveness & possibility, naturally lit with green lung spaces that enhance well-being.

Office that Moves - Modular furniture, adjustable meeting spaces to suit the scale of any engagement where employees can alternate between sitting & standing, to walk & converse. 

Office that Speaks - Walls reflect shared pride and employees find echoes of their input, showcasing the 7 TPW tenets each with a call to action and Indian’s artist’s hand-painted interpretation of “creating smiles with every sip & every bite”. 

Office That Cares - Nurturing professional growth & personal wellbeing by integrating standing desks, bicycle & treadmill workstations, ergonomically designed furniture & meditation pods. Individual lockers, parents’ room, gender-neutral restrooms, prayer rooms fostering a culture of inclusivity. Casual breakout areas to engage & re-energize and eco-friendly fit-outs, recycled water systems, waste segregation practices, energy conservation through motion-sensor lighting, lights & art fittings created with our own discarded MLP, can clips & glass bottles. 

Office that Thinks & Feels - Solutions addressing unique needs - private phone booths, quiet rooms, open huddle spaces & collaboration areas, well-equipped zoom rooms for seamless collaboration and a Celebration Corner for all events. 

How has the inclusion of personal offices, meeting spaces, and amenities like stationary bicycle and treadmill desks been received by employees? Have you noticed any positive impacts on productivity or employee satisfaction?

While employees have the flexibility to work from home, we have witnessed an increase in people choosing to work from office, seeking a change in environment that helps keep spirits high. Teams are coming to office to work together across functions, attend meetings, and are also connecting and engaging with fellow employees. 

They are seen sending emails while walking on treadmills and attending calls while cycling. Employee productivity and satisfaction has gone up with opportunities to de-stress in sleeping pods and meditate in assigned areas as they please. 

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How does PepsiCo support employees in maintaining a healthy work-life balance within the new office space? Are there any specific initiatives or programs in place to address this aspect?

PepsiCo India’s office in Gurugram, is a space with a soul, built keeping in mind the concept of work-life balance and speaks to the needs of a diverse set of employees. The office was a positive step towards making ‘return to work’ exciting for employees by creating a space where they continue to thrive and excel. 

Over the years we have launched multiple organisation level initiatives and policies to help employees manage better work-life balance to empower employees to choose where and how work gets done. Our priority was to understand what matters to employees, and what they want from their workplace to be more productive and enjoy a good balance. Our employees have the flexibility to choose their work timings to avoid cumbersome commutes. 

The new office has a parents’ room which allows employees to bring their young kids to work. We have used technology to understand the pulse of our employees through continuous listening tools and surveys, and comfort and flexibility were our top considerations when redesigning how our employees collaborate with each other. We also understand that employees don’t want to compromise on innovation, creative thinking, and their individual happiness and this is where a hybrid model plays an integral role, helping create, collaborate, connect, and celebrate. 

Can you share any key learnings or insights from the design and implementation process of PepsiCo's new office that could be valuable for other organisations looking to prioritize work through an updated workspace?

To achieve a workplace that works for our people, it is important to understand their preferences. In the post-pandemic era, employees care most about a healthy work-life balance and more flexibility to choose their work environment and timings. 

We created an employee-led, cross-functional task force that came together to work on the elements of our new office. Involving employees in the process of building their new workplace gave them a sense of ownership and belonging. Our new office reflects shared values, thoughts, culture, and stories, which makes it more relatable for our employees and is one of the key learnings during this process.

By combining thoughtful design with employee input, one can create a workspace that truly fosters a positive and productive atmosphere. The design of our office is based on five pillars: Act with integrity, commitment to sustainability, Agriculture, Nutrition, and Water. Each element inside the space is an outcome of employee listening and subtly serves as a reminder of home and the brand. 

Organisations should regularly gather feedback from employees about the workspace and implement necessary changes based on their input. A workspace that evolves with the changing needs of employees will be more successful in improving productivity and well-being. Giving employees the choice to personalise their workspace to some extent, such as decorating their desks or adding a few personal touches can increase a sense of ownership and comfort in the space. Organisations can balance the open and collaborative areas with designated quiet zones where employees can focus on individual tasks without distractions. 

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Topics: Employee Engagement, #Flexibility, #HRTech, #HRCommunity

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