In a series of roundtable discussions on smart workplaces, the CW team once again brought together 20 big wigs for discussion in Bengaluru and Hyderabad to deliberate upon aspects that contribute to enhancing employee productivity at a smart workplace.
Creating and sustaining great workplaces for employees is one of the most significant investments an organisation can make towards its long term success.
The advent of smart workspaces is a natural consequence, with offices adopting practices to become more open, collaborative, technology-enabled and space-efficient. CW, through its Roundtable arm, has been spearheading one such discussion on Smart Workplaces: Productivity Enhancement. Having successfully held one such discussion in Mumbai (featured in the CW April edition), CW once again brought together 20 industry leaders across two separate discussions in Bengaluru and Hyderabad.
While Falguni Padode, Co-founder and Group Managing Editor, ASAPP Info Global Group, led the discussion in Hyderabad on May 5 at hotel Taj Krishna; Aamer Azeemi, CEO, Petrus Digital, and Independent Director, Bhubaneswar Smart City, moderated the discussion in Bengaluru on May 12 at hotel The Ritz-Carlton. Here are some excerpts from the experts:
Aamer Azeemi, CEO, Petrus Digital, and Independent Director, Bhubaneswar Smart City 'Workplaces today are becoming a collaborative and open environment.
People from different teams come together and share ideas, which is healthy for the corporate environment. WiFi, video conferencing sessions - technology is there wherever employees move round in the workplace. Is the built environment moving around; is personalisation available - all these add to smart workplaces. The whole co-working space is getting into the enterprise environment, and hopefully, it will change the whole dynamics of how offices are built smoothly.
Pramod Jaiswal, Partner, BetweenSpaces
The question is, what is the company going to offer its employees? Each workplace needs to be planned considering the work culture, its employees and the age group in the organisation. And, the architecture should respond to these factors. The workforce four to five years down the line will largely be millennials. And, for them, mobility is crucial; they want to move around and not be seated in one place. Positioning workplaces or desks to take advantage of daylight are crucial.
Sukanto Aich, Senior Director-Lighting, Philips Lighting India
We need to start with the end objective of what we are trying to make smart. We are used to this basic sensor, where the moment you walk out of a room, the light gets switched off; it's good, it saves energy. But the biggest guzzler in the room is the air-conditioning. So, why not have the same sensor manage the air-conditioning. Everything is now getting connected through IoT. Integrating different elements û from light management system to a BMS to even an IT infrastructure, which can analyse this kind of data - can result into huge savings, RoI and productivity. Also, lighting level can get the employee charged up and motivated. We have implemented solutions where the control is actually with the users, not only between daylight and artificial light, but managing light at different levels in terms of colour, temperature and brightness. Today, solutions are being designed around millennials as well.
Nirbhik Bera, Senior Director-Project Management Services, Knight Frank Property Services
Smart workplaces need to represent the culture, be sustainable, and at times, flexible. Today, there is a need to create spaces for collaboration. Also, the requirement for clients to move into a fitted-out space is increasing. On ergonomics, more and more clients are requesting for sit and stand workstations; the furniture industry has evolved just along with computers and lights, flexibility in terms of standard meeting rooms and furniture, etc.
Tapan Mazumder, Senior Divisional Manager in the Central Projects Organisation, ITC at Bangalore
Workplaces will gradually be a balance of technology and human experience. In the IT business, the need for security and surveillance is increasing. Light sensors or occupancy sensors are now being used more. Earlier, the expectation was that when you go to the toilet, the light should be on and then off. However, thanks to Philips Lighting, ITC has got 6.5 W LED lights. That said, in a workplace, the light has the occupancy sensor in-built, so you are not investing in that extra wire.
Ravinder Pal Singh, Director-Strategic & Mega Projects, Dell Technologies
When we wanted to set up the first smart campus, we decided not to have 100 per cent spaces, because at any point in time, the workplace is not 100 per cent occupied. Technology is a critical element. IoT is changing everything. Also, why not plan for smart parking, smart lifts, smart spaces and an app with all the facilities of what is going to be designed. Few years back, we had motion sensors, and today, we have progressed to intelligent sensors to save energy. By 2020, one word that will define a workplace will be mobility.
Sriram Suryanarayanan, Associate Partner-Interactive Experience & Mobile, Order Management & Fulfillment Solutions Lead, IBM
While technology plays an important role, somewhere, the human angle is also crucial. At IBM, we have a free desk sitting culture. In terms of innovation, we have these war rooms, as we call it, which are open ideation spaces; some of them are like an amphitheatre set up, wherein you do not have a particular seating model.
Ravindra Kumar, Principal Architect, Pragrup
One should not confuse the word smart to efficiency. Cost engineering is efficiency. Sustainability happens not by the idea of building a co-working space but by actually building to reduce. You can actually build 60 per cent seats and efficiently manage that space. This sense of ergonomics will work. Also, more and more industries are waking up to the idea of recycle, reuse and reduce. Money has to be invested in where the human occupation is super sensitive, and the act to reduce, recycle and reuse will bring you super RoI.
Clarissa Karoth, Business Consultant, Omniscient
When we talk about any space or office, the most important is security û how secure are your people in the building? That costs a lot of money because there is continuous recording and bandwidth and storage. We have an automated response system put in with our software. Everything is put in together, so that we make use of the three sensors of the body - the eyes, ears and the smell detector. The software is made in a way that it identifies the object for the object.
Karan Virwani, Director, WeWork India
Smart is about how effectively we can utilise space to its maximum potential and how many people we can fit in. This leads to a better RoI. We are trying to provide a workplace where we can collaborate and create something new and different that does not exist as against working in silos. Also, what makes an employee more productive is the community and people around him.
Arpit Bhatt, Consulting Systems Engineer-Security & IOT, Aruba Networks - HP Company
Personalised experience, especially with IoT, is not a theory anymore - for instance, it could be as personalised as it could find my mood based on my heart rate, and adjust the lighting accordingly. It could also consider an average within the room and set the temperature accordingly. Another important thing is the happiness index for a company to attract the right set of talent and retain them. Also, we have a co-working space in Hyderabad, with 500 start ups successfully operating there.
M Goutham Reddy, Executive Director, Ramky Group
Concepts like 'walk to work', 'live-work-play', employee engagement' and the culture that 'we belong here', is what brings maximum productivity. Smart technologies are basically solutions that make a happy workplace. It could come from a combination of things such as open space, a culture of employee engagement, etc, and these can be coupled with smart products for interiors such as lighting, air-conditioning, sensor-based technologies and solutions. This brings in a wonderful combination of happy working with smart products and productivity enhancement.
Madala Bharath Kumar, CEO, NPRODAX
We need to provide employees with abundant air, good light and a good hygienic environment. Technology, virtual reality, IoT devices - should be a part of the workplace and enhance life of an employee.
Karthik Sampath, Sr Deputy General Manager-Interiors, Engineering, Brigade Enterprises
Our customers want a smart workplace - not just sustainable but as cost-effective as possible. So be it lighting, air-conditioning or other services, we work with our partners to see how we can achieve cost-effectiveness. This is more like the solar game of yesteryears, which till about two years ago was terribly expensive. Today, with the concept gaining popularity, the prices are coming down drastically.
Takbir Fatima, Architect + Director, Design Aware
Usually, business models are client-centric, but workplaces should focus on the employees who utilise the space every day. Workplaces need to be high tech, but it is also crucial to create a comfortable and inclusive space for employees. While ergonomic furniture and chairs that are comfortable and spaces well-cooled or well-lit are common, certain details are overlooked. Instead of the norm being cubicles, it should become open trans-spaces, where different pods for discussion are created.
Praveen Kumar Soma, Senior Counsellor, IGBC, CII
Lux levels are crucial - a balance between artificial and natural lights. A World EBC report mentions that there is about 10-12 per cent increase in productivity when employees work in a green office. We have also conducted a research on enhancing indoor air quality, and concluded that the use of some indoor plants help absorb VOC components. Any smart workplace should be efficiently designed with natural resources - regional and recyclable, with less dependence on virgin materials.
Rupam Dey, Director, SEP Architects
The workplace design is changing drastically. There are two areas to look at û built-to-suit and multi-talented building. A built-to-suit project gives several advantages to clients and end-users. The emphasis should be on the OPEX while designing. Microsoft is going through a renovation in its Hyderabad campus tower-by-tower. While previously it included cubicles of about 6 ft, the issue of isolation is now being addressed with a plan of linear desks, all open, without any cabin.
Ravi Nishesh Srivastava, Assistant Consultant-PSW, Cyient
Within a workplace, important elements include ventilation, smart lighting, connected devices as well as access control. Recently, an IT giant in Hyderabad designed the entire campus for 360o ventilation; more than 70 per cent greenery; workstations to receive natural light; no air-conditioning on the initial floor; also, on the outer side, the entire area is cooler in the periphery of that particular campus, owing to its design. So, smart is not just about being automated, but effective utilisation of what we have and design it appropriately for the users.
Buchibabu Tungam, Managing Director, Samyutha Info Technologies
A smart workplace should increase the efficiency and productivity of not just human resources but also resources in the building. If smart devices such as cooling systems, lightings, pilots, etc, are interconnected, they can be integrated with IT systems to generate real-time analytics. This can help control every area of the office.
- SHRIYAL SETHUMADHAVAN & SERAPHINA D'SOUZA
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Emergence of Integrated MEP business are basically encouraging small contractors as because in most of the cases the major equipments are bought by the developers (employer/client) and being given to the MEP contractors to erect or install. This type of projects are not suitable for large contractors as only erection sort of a job is left to be done which doesnt attract more much desired profits compared to the manpower investment. Also, from client/employer's point of view if they buy the major equipments themselves by taking engineering/technical help from consultants it will save them atleast 10 to 15% of value on each equiipments which the contractor might have costed for that particular project. Due to this reason MEP business is a big failure in eastern part of the country. But yes, Indian HVAC industry has a great future ahead.