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Better Work @ Better Designed Office?

ET Cases, 17 pages
AUTHOR(S) : Vandana Jayakumar and Dr. Nagendra V. Chowdary

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Better Work@Better Designed Office?


The word office reminds one of the physical place where people come together to perform predetermined tasks in sync with the organizational goals. Offices are places where people perform assigned tasks in a structured manner. However, with the onset of knowledge-based work, the Internet and the mobile phones, the definition of office began to change as an individual could work from anywhere, anytime and thus an ubiquitous office (a virtual office) has been quite prevalent. Add to this the workplace expectations from millennials/Gen Y, one would have an even bigger challenge at hand.

Today’s work environment can be described in terms of Mobility, Flexibility, Agility, Collaboration and Technology (MFACT). 1 Increasingly, there is a culture of working from home or working from a place out of office that could be a café or a restaurant where people could feel comfortable to collaborate. Should companies provide this comfort in their offices? If yes, how?

Of late, the IT bigwigs like Google, Oracle, Accenture, etc., and almost all of the start-ups had set new benchmarks for office space/office design that resonates well not only with employees’ age but also depicts the MFACT environment. Should this be the defacto norm for all the offices? How would other generations – the veterans, the baby boomers and Gen X respond to such changes?................

Office Design and Research Musings

Consider the following:

• It is practically impossible for large organizations to leave all the decision-making in the hands of the seniors. Moreover, with seniors taking all the decisions, the Gen Y workers remain unenthusiastic to implement the decisions. Gen Y can be engaged by empowering them to innovate and implement new ideas.


Great Places to Work, Start-Ups and High Performance Design

Eli Lilly and Company (Lilly), an American pharmaceutical company with a global presence, is an apt example of how changing an office design could enhance organizational performance. Lilly, in consultation with DEGW, a workplace strategy consultancy, redesigned the 470,000 square feet of its office space for its 3,300 employees.............., a start-up in Delhi, provides a social shopping platform for the Indian women. The start-up draws its name from the old Grand Trunk Road (commonly called as the GT Road), known to be a busy trade route in ancient times. Through the scrapbook tool, the website allows users to create various looks with products available on the website – for instance, matching a dress with accessories and footwear or a handbag...........

Similar to LimeRoad is the office of (Quikr), the online and mobile classifieds business company, where the office has been designed to reflect the company’s core values - functionality, simplicity and transparency. These are the essential attributes of its online and mobile classifieds business.............


Chumbak, an Indian kitsch design26 start-up’s office in Bangalore’s Nimbaikaypura area has been designed with the aim of keeping the office transparent and costs low. Having started the venture in their apartment in 2009, the founders Vivek Prabhakar and Shubhra Chadda (husband and wife) changed two offices before settling in their Nimbaikaypura office in August 2013..................

Millennials and Millennial Workplace

PriceWaterhouse Coopers (PWC) undertook a study to understand the mindset of graduates globally who would be entering the workforce for the first time. According to the report (compiled on the basis of survey of 4,271 graduates from 44 countries in September 2008), millennials expect mobility in their jobs and are keen to work on overseas assignments........

Assignment Questions

I. Do you think an aesthetically designed workplace would be one of the motivating factors for you to go to office?

II. Do you agree or disagree that a satisfied employee will also be a productive employee?

III. ...............


Exhibit I: Workforce: Characteristics and Management Competencies

Exhibit II: Dynamics of Business over the Years

Exhibit III: Link Between the Level of Satisfaction, the Working Environment and Levels of Productivity

Exhibit IV: Factors Likely to Enhance Employee Productivity

Exhibit V: Outcome of Office Redesigning at Eli Lilly and Company

Exhibit VI: Attributes of a Well-designed Workplace at the Best Companies to Work

Exhibit VII: Limeroad’s Office in Lime Colour

Exhibit VIII: Quikr’s Headquarter

Exhibit IX: Millennials’ Office Hours Preferences

Exhibit X: Millennials Use Technology to Enhance their Networking Abilities

Exhibit XI: Attributes of an Attractive Employer According to the Millennials

Exhibit XII: Social Media Accessibility at Companies

Exhibit XIII: The Digital Office Framework

Exhibit XIV: Focus at the Workplace

Exhibit XV: Changes in the Knowledge Work Since 2007

Exhibit XVI: The Four Work Modes

Teaching Note Preview

Better Work@Better Designed Office?



This case study enables a discussion on one of the two tangible assets of an organization – the workplace/office, the other one being its people. It delves into various research findings on office design and its impact on organizational performance. What factors should organizations keep in mind in order to have an ideal workplace that suits not just the organizational goals but also the needs of its occupiers? The case study tries answering the question by studying the workplace characteristics of the best companies to work for. It also profiles three Indian start-ups – Quikr, Limeroad and Chumbak – that boast of unique office designs. Finally, the case study debates on the workplace expectations of the millennials. The case study shatters certain myths about the expectations of the millennials and also about some of the popular office designs.

Prerequisite Conceptual Understanding

Prerequisite Conceptual Understanding (PCU) material is the background material that would aid immensely in mapping the decision areas of this case study and bring a synthesis amongst the relevant concepts. The participants/students should be encouraged to read this material to benefit from the broader perspectives outlined in the case study.

  • • “Millennials at Work: Reshaping the Workplace”, – To understand the workplace characteristics of the millennials
  • • Brian Thompson and Driver Jonas, “Workplace Design and Productivity: Are they Inextricably Linked?”,, July 2008 – To study the relationship between workplace design and productivity
  • • “What We’ve Learned about Focus in the Workplace”, – To analyze the significance of focused work in today’s knowledge economy
  • • “What Makes a Great Workplace”, – To study the workplace attributes of the Best Places to Work For


Before the Classroom Discussion

  • • The participants were asked to read the given PCU material
  • • They were asked to speak to their parents or their seniors about their likes and dislikes in their respective workplaces
  • • They were asked to visit the websites of some of the office furniture manufacturers such as Steelcase and Haworth and browse through their products to get a feel of the trends in office furniture. This would sensitize the participants to the contemporary ways in which offices are being equipped
  • • The students should be encouraged to visit the websites of and as well.


Expected Learning Outcomes

At the end of the case study, the participants should be well-versed with the following:

  • • On the basis of research findings on office design, the importance of an aesthetically crafted workplace design
  • • The relationship between workplace design and productivity/performance
  • • The role of workplace design at ‘Great-places-to-work’ and start-ups
  • • Workplace expectations of the millennials


Positioning and Setting

This case study can be suitably used in the following courses:

  • • Concept of Organizational Culture in Organizational Behavior Course – To understand how an organizational culture gets shaped through artefacts
  • • Strategic HRM course – How founders’ heuristics can shape organizational culture and the expected work behavior


Assignment Questions

  • I. Do you think an aesthetically designed workplace would be one of the motivating factors for you to go to office?
  • II. Do you agree or disagree that a satisfied employee will also be a productive employee?
  • III. ....................




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Product code: OB-1-0028, OB-1-0028A


This case study is meant to examine if there is any relationship between an aesthetically designed workplace and employee productivity/employee performance. Would a better workplace design enable a happy workforce to deliver better results? While the 'Great-places-to-work' companies and start-ups are known for their unique and invigorating workplace designs, the millennials who are joining the workforce also are having an influence on the workplace designs. Are the workplace designs of, and Chumbak, three of India's new age startups, the tip of the new workplace design iceberg?

Pedagogical Objectives

  • To understand the importance of an aesthetically crafted workplace design with appropriate research underpinnings
  • To discuss and debate on whether there's any relationship between workplace design and productivity/performance and examine how, if at all, workplace design can be an enabler of high performance
  • To analyze the importance of workplace design in the case of 'Great-places-to-work', startups, millennial workforce's workplace expectations

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- Case Study
- Teaching Note (**ONLY for Academicians)

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