It’s a techie life Society

Working wonders

UST-Global’s new campus

UST-Global’s new campus   | Photo Credit: ANAND RJ

Imagine a technology company office and we’re betting the image that pops up in mind is of row-upon-row of techies, in suits and ties, hunched over their computers, packed liked sardines into windowless, albeit air-conditioned, spaces. That’s so not the scene at 1 Innovation Drive, UST-Global’s new campus in Technopark. Ever since it was opened last year, the swanky campus, set in 36 acres, has become the talk (and envy) of the town’s tech world for it’s ergonomic and environment-friendly workspaces. “The campus is so employee friendly that it motivates us to work,” a friend, who works in the company had remarked, which piqued our curiosity. After all, very few offices in the city, even those within Technopark, can lay claim to such enthusiasm from employees.

Now, if you thought getting into Technopark was a hassle, with all the security clearance, try your luck at UST’s fortress. Not to mention the long, long wait, if your permission slip doesn’t come through in time. Eventually, armed with a visitor badge, we make our way up Innovation Drive on a company buggy that’s always available for employees/visitors who don’t want to walk the distance. On the way, we take in the lake, the landscaped putting green, the joggers track and the huge shell-shaped amphitheatre.

View from the top of UST Global’s main building

View from the top of UST Global’s main building   | Photo Credit: ANAND RJ

All of it’s, of course, dwarfed by the imposing main building. “The building appears to shaped like a butterfly from ground up but it’s actually in the shape of Lord Parashurama’s axe that, as legend goes, carved out Kerala when he threw it into the sea. The campus has been designed in the traditional Travancore construction style wherein one-third of space is for water bodies, one-third for greenery and the rest one-third for humans,” says Harikrishnan Mohankumar Jayashree, head of Real Estate and Facilities Management, Asia Pacific, who is taking us on a tour of the building. The open plan double height lobby, lit mostly by natural light, is pretty impressive. In fact, at 65, 000 sq feet, it’s so big that it easily fits the award-winning Chambakulam Chundan snake boat, which the company acquired a few years ago, into a corner as well as an F1 racing car! “Sometimes we hold events here in the lobby and it can hold up to 3,000 people,” he explains.

The 10 floors of workspace are on upper levels, on either side of the lobby, while the cafeteria and wellness centre is below deck. Each floor can set up to 840 people and each is named after a spice: saffron, red chilli and so on. Even before we head to the actual workspaces, you can see that things are quite unconventional here. On lounge areas in the lobby you can see small groups of employees, deep in discussion. “We hold meetings where ever it is convenient, not necessarily in boardrooms. The entire campus has been designed as a collaborative space,” explains Harikrishnan.

On the upper floors we get talking to several techies, all of whom can’t stop gushing about their new office. Jayrina Varughese, an information security auditor, for instance, says: “It’s always a good experience to have your own space. In this facility, there’s space for the entire team [sometimes numbering hundreds] to sit together. So there is a feeling of oneness that was not very palpable in the earlier rented space inside Technopark.”

Deepa Gopinathan, an associate delivery manager, agrees and chips in quickly before she heads to a meeting: “The openness of the space is what excites me about coming into to work everyday,” referring to the open plan floors, from where you can get a 360 degree view of that particular floor and the world outside from anywhere you sit/stand. “The openness means that you get to see nature sitting in the comfort of your bay. Inside a building in Technopark, you wouldn’t know if it rains. Here you can get a birds eye view,” she says. “It’s a very positive space.”

There also appears to be no cabin culture within the office. “Seniors share the same space with their team members,” says Biju Rakesh, a delivery director, a 15-year veteran of the company, who sits with his team of 550 people.

“The only cubicles on the floors seem to be where client conferences are organised but even those rooms have transparent walls. I’ve noticed that attrition levels have come down in my team after we moved to the new space. I think its because the space itself makes us a happier lot,” he adds, leading us to an open air balcony. “Sometimes we hold meetings here on the balcony or simply chill out. Some of my team mates just finished a game of carroms,” he says, as we take in the view of the lake and the horizon beyond. “The lake is teeming with fish. We plan to introduce fishing as a recreational activity for employees,” adds Harikrishnan, noting our interest.

The higher you go in the building, the more spectacular the views become, particularly in the topmost floors. It’s where there are offices for visiting clients, where there is a gym and an infinity pool for the use of employees, where you can see the view on one side and the mountains on the other. Talk about a workspace.

Factfile

The building has 8 lakh sq feet built up area

It can seat 7,800 people when its fully functional. Right now, around 2,800 people work here.

The building is aiming for platinum certification by LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). It has radiant cooling, flywheel UPS, energy saving features that reduces the air-conditioning load and enables daylight harvesting, and so on

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Printable version | Sep 15, 2020 2:02:36 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/ust-globals-swanky-new-workspace/article18425454.ece

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