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Back in Mumbai after 16 years in Singapore, Subhradeep Mohanty, chief financial officer, Standard Chartered India, acknowledges that more than a few walls have come down at the workplace since he left. The flat organizational structure and open culture are reflected in the way workspaces are being designed.

“Earlier, there would be closed spaces and a fair amount of segregation. Now cross-functional teams are being blended to encourage collaboration and interaction," says Mohanty. This has been necessitated in part by the opportunities that exist today and the way people are thinking about career choices. Mohanty believes organizations like theirs need to morph constantly and offer a better workspace because people are attracted by the vibrant environment of start-ups and new-age industries. He gives us a peek into how Standard Chartered India keeps its workspace dynamic and effective:

My space: A big believer in visual discussion, Mohanty makes sure that he surrounds himself with white idea boards for brainstorming sessions. “My workspace is dominated by the colour white and a minimalist design—it creates more focus as there are no distractions," he says. A way to keep stress at bay: a friendly game of putting.

Removing barriers: Worldwide the bank has an open workplace design to encourage dialogue between teams and their leaders and also foster synergies across team. The layout often doesn’t demarcate between teams. “We have also experimented with the height of the partition between desks and have concluded that there is an optimal height that allows people privacy and yet, doesn’t become a communication barrier," he says.

Culture and wellness: Increasingly, employees choose companies that not only give them pay and benefits but also invest in what’s important to them beyond work. Wellness, says Mohanty, is a huge focus area for the bank. A well-equipped gym, an on-site cafeteria and a crèche are some of the ways the organization believes in supporting the personal priorities of employees. “Besides the convenience of an on-site cafeteria, it is also a place where we engage our people during different festivals, we also have townhalls here, there are informal catch-ups to celebrate special occasions," says Mohanty. The cafeteria walls at the Bandra Kurla Complex head office in Mumbai proudly display the bank’s association with Liverpool FC as the main sponsor of the popular football club, along with a Liverpool corner, keeping the employees “cool and culturally tuned in".

Global outlook: Standard Chartered India, which has 8,500 employees, places great emphasis on awareness of its international operations, which is apparent in the names given to the conference rooms across the head office, and the artwork that adorns the walls on every floor. “We want to encourage awareness about the global nature of our business. Our walls also reflect our international operations—we have Indian theme murals and art on one floor, African, Middle Eastern and other themes on other floors," says Mohanty.

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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