Amidst the pandemic, a challenging factor for the corporates included - ensuring business continuity along with safety of employees. As a result, COVID-19 opened up newer working avenues untouched upon till date. One such avenue is ‘Satellite Offices’. Curious? We were as well.
In a recent interview with Shaishav Dharia, Business CEO – Townships and Annuity Assets, Lodha Group, we discuss the new emerging work trends and impact of the pandemic on office spaces.
How do you see the world of work shaping up?
While the world is getting used to the new behavior, and everyone accepts the new normal, we have noted that business continuity is crucial, and corporates would like to function seamlessly with the presence of its workforce. While employees have experienced the benefits of the 'work from home' model and observed an increase in productivity, people miss social engagement and integrated working that is only feasible in an office environment. There will be implications for the new demands, and the hybrid model of 'work near home' can offer the perfect solution.
Corporates will consider decentralized models and look at multiple office setups to ensure employee safety. We will see a need to create more work near home models that encourages live-learn-work-play in a closed gated community, which will further ensure employee well-being and productivity.
With many organizations now switching to more remote working models and other hybrid ways of working, how has the impact been on realty space? How are you innovating your business solutions to keep up with the changing demands?
With the evolving trends in the post pandemic world, realty players are venturing towards meeting present day demands. Workplaces are being re-designed to adhere to the social distancing norms and being ensured that the work spaces are well lit and ventilated.
As a leading real estate developer, we aim at devising innovative business continuity solutions. At the backdrop of an increasing need for work near home set ups, HDFC Bank, Palava back office had taken up space in Palava Township for setting up their satellite office. Despite the lockdown and external exigencies, business continuity at HDFC Bank, Palava branch did not suffer since 2/3rd of the employees could walk to work, not being affected by public transport disruption and simultaneously, staying safe. Axis Bank has also followed the same suit and has taken up 2 floors of space at Palava for accommodating nearly 500 employees. Deloitte has also moved from Eastern suburbs to Thane and is in the process of starting an office space at Lodha Business District with over 2000+ employees working from that site.
As employers and employees embrace the new reality of work and hybrid work structures, what are some of the key challenges you think they may face? How can they manage these challenges?
While work-from-home is considered a viable way in the new normal, employees see it as one of the serious concerns of immigration, or family-care limitations. It is also true that employees receive a lot more value when they are sitting side by side with their manager, mentor, and peers.
A lot goes into communication and team building which can get lost when working from their individual homes. Working from home during this lockdown period, employers and employees both witnessed several more challenges right from physical infrastructure, internet connectivity, data privacy to employee’s productivity and social engagement of the workforce.
Hybrid work near home models can provide the much needed breather in such a scenario, allowing uninterrupted business functioning and ensuring employee safety and productivity. On the other hand, companies are expected to redesign their existing offices to suit new norms and regulations.
While many new innovative solutions and technologies are now emerging to cater to the changing nature of work, how do you think digitalization will further increase?
With the changing norms, digital interfaces will gain momentum. AR/VR/virtual tours will become more prominent. Technology led interventions with contactless and voice-activated facilities are further going to pave the future way.
Satellite offices’ emerged as a great solution perfectly fitting in the criteria the situation demands. We witnessed the positive results in HDFC Bank Palava back office that did not face any operational glitch. Senior management of the bank vouched that the branch functioned seamlessly with a large number of staff who could ‘walk to work’ or take a ‘short drive to work’ from their residence in Palava Township. The presence of their satellite offices allowed the employees to abide by the social distancing norms as they were not dependent on public transport and were safe while travelling to work.
While ‘Work from home’ has multiple benefits like reduced travel time, costs and getting more time to spend with family, people do miss social engagements and want to share some time outside the family group. There is going to be a need to create more satellite offices in business districts as that will increase productivity and ensure employee’s safety while they continue to work. Also from a BCP standpoint, it becomes easier to manage manpower movement. With the pandemic, people have gradually become well adept at devising innovative solutions. A hybrid model of ‘Walk from home’ combined with the strategic presence of satellite offices across integrated living developments has resultantly witnessed an upsurge as a feasible solution.