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When companies open up office space for meet-ups

By offering their spaces free-of-cost to tech-based communities, some companies are promoting a culture of knowledge sharing

On December 21, which is a Saturday, a meeting on “Artificial Intelligence for Developers has been scheduled. The venue is the Amazon Development Centre in Bengaluru.

That is one more manifestation of a well-entrenched trend. Amazon is just throwing its doors open for AWS User Group to conduct this event.

An increasing number of companies are doing this: Letting professionals in their area of operations use a section of their offices for free, during the weekend, to organise any capacity-building exercise.

Companies operating in the area of new-age technologies such as Machine Language and Data Analytics are particularly open to the idea of playing hosts for such events.

Not only do they offer their spaces for free, but a majority of these hosts pamper the attendees with sumptuous food and mementoes.

This year, Bengaluru AI and ML Meetup — an online group with 7,800 members— decided to conduct at least one event a month, and at a new venue each time, and thanks to such generosity, they have been having a great run.

Microsoft, Citrix Systems, Nutanix Technologies, Infosys, Nvidia Graphics, Harman International, Philips, Mathworks and NASSCOM are some office venues that have played host, with an average attendance at these events being 60.

Some companies are also organisers of such community events.

ThoughtWorks, for instance, has held over 40 meet-ups at its offices in Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad this year. BizKnight is an initiative by the company to bring business analysts and product managers to brainstorm for ideas.

“These events have helped us create a strong employer brand for ThoughtWorks as people from different communities understand our tech abilities and our practices. We have helped people build capabilities around those technologies,” says Saptorsi Hore, chief operating officer, India.

To facilitate these meet-ups the company has created dedicated breakout zones within its offices to host people, apart from investing in infrastructure to provide audio and video experience.

OpenEBS, an open storage platform, also organises meet-ups to bring professionals in this niche area together. The meet-ups are a win-win for both the organisation as well as participants. For participants, it’s a platform to network, understand the latest buzz in the industry, learn and adopt from the best practices from other companies. For the host company, it helps build and showcase its brand.

Finding talent

A few companies use the platform to tap talent.

“A Pune-based company wanted us to organise a meet-up in Bengaluru as they were looking for people who have worked on “Container” technology,” says Ganesh Samarthyam, who co-organises nine meet-up groups in Bengaluru. He says a representative or two from the company is usually present at the meet-up.

Join the group

Many organisations encourage employees to be part of these community groups or invite organisers to host events at their office space to motivate employees to be a part of them.

Besides a full-time job with a professional services firm, Murughan Palaniachari has been organising meet-ups in Cloud, Devops and Blockchain.

“Ten employees participated in a recent Cloud Computing Meetup that we organised at our office, for the first time. Sometimes, we pick employees within the organisation to give a presentation, thus encouraging learning and sharing,” he says.

Vaibhav Chaudhary, a representative of the Java Users Meetup Group, a global meetup group, says the availability of good speakers and centrally-located venues are two big factors in deciding the popularity of these communities.

“Sometimes we change the venue depending on the number of people who have registered for it. Some companies have conference rooms to accommodate more than 1000 people — Infosys is one example,” says Chaudhary, adding that an average of 100 to 200 people would attend a meetup. “Having members across companies helps us speed up permission and other requirements for a meet.”

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2020 12:43:06 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/careers/when-companies-open-up-office-space-for-meet-ups/article30337350.ece

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