It all starts within the office – in fulfilling its aim to build a “connected society for a better future”, Vodafone’s leadership team makes it a point to first build this internally.
In this feature, JPS Choudary, Regional HR Head – Asia, Africa and Middle East, Vodafone, tells Priya Sunil all about the inclusive, collaborative, and overall sustainable working environment the firm has built for its employees, to achieve the company’s goals.
Q What spurred your company’s decision to create this office concept?
At Vodafone, our aim is to build a connected society for a better future. We have designed our workspace to promote collaboration and inclusiveness while ensuring it is environmentally safe and promotes sustainable working. This is done with the ultimate goal of giving our employees the best environment to deliver the best solutions for our customers.
With that in mind, we have embraced an open plan workplace environment with no physical hierarchy. Employees make use of hot desks, which means they are able to sit with their teams one day or sit with cross-functional team members when the need calls for it. Our design also took into consideration meeting spaces – from larger meeting rooms, to small booths for audio or video conferencing, as well as semi-private nooks and standing tables peppered around the office.
As part of our inclusion strategy to build a diverse workforce, we also have a nursing room to support working mothers who have returned to the workforce after their maternity leave. The office has also been designed to be accessible to support differently-abled employees and visitors. These include having a bigger access entry, and height-adjustable workstations and chairs.
Our customer-hosting facilities such as the Customer Experience Centre are integral to our office space building a strong understanding amongst employees of our product and service offerings.
Q How does creating such a workplace help with the company culture?
The open office concept we adopted helps to create better communication, collaboration and speed of work. The current office design we adopted has positive benefits in better utilisation of our workspace.
Our workplace allows everyone to work together, everywhere and anywhere they wish to in the office. We have plenty of collaboration spaces which promotes more face to face interactions and active engagement, meaning we build better connections, can problem-solve more effectively and can come up with more creative ideas and solutions.
As a global business and in our journey to being a digital telco, we provide our employees with technology tools such as video conferencing facilities, digital displays, anywhere connectivity and connectivity across multiple devices in well-equipped meeting rooms. This helps us improve the employee experience which is a key factor in driving professional growth and performance of our teams.
Q Does it help improve productivity?
An engaging office design is key to encouraging productivity by fostering seamless collaboration across various functions. There is a mix of collaborative spaces as well as ergonomically designed workstations aimed at fostering a healthy work environment.
The open working environment as well as formal and informal meeting spaces encourage more face to face interactions and allow for chance discussions or quick meetings. These meeting spaces as well as the quiet spaces that individuals can go to focus, give them the flexibility to choose a space that best suits their needs – this inevitably leads to better productivity and happier employees.
Q What advice would you give other companies that are planning on redecorating their offices?
We believe in informal seating and doing away with traditional, fixed workstations. In addition to that, we would advise companies to provide seamless connectivity and technology tools for a digitally-enabled workforce. They should also think about incorporating plenty of breakaway zones and free seating, keeping in mind optimal space utilisation with employee facilities like open pantries, a play area and areas of rest must be integrated seamlessly into collaborative areas in an innovative manner.
They can also use the opportunity to incorporate a space to showcase their company’s product and services, such as a customer experience centre. Aside from space design, aesthetically they can include design elements that reflect the local market and culture or the company culture and values.
Lastly but very importantly, it is key from the start to think about the company’s carbon footprint – consider using sustainable materials and designing elements that can reduce the company’s overall environmental impact.
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