From the reception area to the workstations, a hushed silence pervades Microsoft’s Gurugram office. Partly, that’s because silence in the workplace is encouraged. But primarily, it’s due to the fact that there are hardly any people around. Employees work on flexible schedules, considered one of the key benefits offered by the technology company that is India’s most attractive employer brand, according to a 2018 Randstad Employer Brand Research survey.

Himani Agrawal, director, integrated marketing, who has offered to take Mint on a tour of the office, says, “I work from home, on the road and even my son’s skating ground." But she loves coming to the Gurugram office because “it’s modern, it’s green—not just because of the plants, but because the architecture is inspired by nature—and there is also a connection to our Indian heritage".

Writing on the wall: Agrawal says her workday is immediately elevated by the message “Shakeet, Dhairyam, Vikram (courage in adversity, patience in prosperity, oratory in assembly, bravery in battle), inscribed in Devanagari on the reception-area wall. “Personally, I love Indian culture and heritage, and this is something you won’t typically find in many workplaces," she says.

Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint
Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint

A room for every mood: The office, spread over about 90,000 sq. ft across two towers, is divided into three work zones—green, yellow and red. “While some people gravitate towards the same zone every day, I am a person who likes sitting in different spaces," says Agrawal, adding that unplanned collaborations are the biggest benefit of this type of office plan. “For instance, we have a new sales team that operates out of the red zone, so you’ll often find me sitting there. At times, if we find there is a productivity blocker, all I have to do is turn my chair and have a quick conversation to resolve things. I don’t need to send out a calendar invite to block time, and lose time in the process," she explains.

These types of informal connections, encouraged by members of the leadership team as well, rarely get in the way of work. In fact, there are enough room options to meet all your work requirements. If you’re in a playful mood, there’s a game room that Agrawal’s son, who visits occasionally, likes. “When he was younger, it was about going to mom’s office. Now, it’s going to the game room," she says.

Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint
Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint

Becoming a minimalist: Having done two stints at Microsoft since 2008, Agrawal recalls her first reaction on seeing the current office, to which they moved in 2014. Although impressed by an office sans cubicles, she says, “I thought, I don’t have a desk with drawers, so where will I keep my things?" She quickly realized that an open-office plan—so open, that chief operating officer Meetul Patel could be your desk-mate—had forced her to de-clutter. “While clearing out my old office desk, I threw out 90% of the stuff I had just been hoarding. I found CDs of demos created four years ago!" she says. “All I need is my phone and laptop," she adds, having shed even her laptop strolley along the way.

Green with joy: Agrawal’s favourite spot at work, located in the yellow zone, is a tiny oasis carpeted with a faux grass rug and a panoramic view of Gurugram. “It’s like a burst of green in a concrete jungle. I know it’s not real grass, but it is soothing," she says.

Terrariums dot the office. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint
Terrariums dot the office. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint

Money and spider plants dot every corner and terrariums are perched on shelves along the walls. The greenery, and several air purifiers across the office floor, are a boon given Gurugram’s pollution. As she puts it, “You feel a difference in the quality of air when you come to or leave the office."

The Work Tour is a series which looks at how people are engaging with office design and how it impacts their productivity and positivity at work.

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