Interior design for workspaces in India has often lagged behind the curve when compared with global best practices. Whether it be the adoption of smart technologies, or the transition to communal work places, rarely has the Indian office transitioned beyond the conventional standard. However, visiting the Corporate Headquarters for Hike make it seem like the trend might be reversing and the emergence of India has a global heavyweight is paralleled in it’s leadership in workplace conceptualisation.
Conceptualized as a Temple of Excellence by the Founder and CEO, Kavin Bharti Mittal, who set the vision and personally led a small cross-functional team of Hike employees -- designers, engineers and key workplace personnel, the office space sets the bar for what new age offices should look like and is envisaged in the same youthful spirit of the mobile social company that drives the very nature of what it sets out to do. Hike is a novel messaging app that simplifies connectivity between people and aims to change manners of mobile interaction.Deeming that there is no better workplace in India, the office design showcases the core values of the firm as defined in itsHike Code. The inimitable design approach stems from the belief that corporate operations (in India) and typical work environments have been frozen in time for the last 40 years with little or no innovation. Hike’s new workplace breaks through that notion and builds the foundations of a thriving, young and creative firm that is driven by innovation and technology; one that the millennials of today -- a highly tech-savvy, social, collaborative, adventurous, flexible, transparent and values-driven generation -- would really love to work at.
Located just between Delhi and Gurgaon, in close proximity to the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) airport in prime NCR territory, and capturing magnificent views of the airport, Hike Messenger’s corporate headquarters redefines the conventional notions of spatial design of high-tech company offices. Sited in the Worldmark 1 towers, a Bharti Realty green initiative within the NCR region, the office is located on the fourth floor with panoramic views of the airport landscape and the Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway that are well-integrated into the spatial planning. Motivated by the energetic Hike Code, and a culture of live, work and play, an array of unique workspaces make up Hike's Temple of Excellence. With a conscious attempt to minimise the branding colours, in order to retain the ‘culture and brand as ever evolving’, an ingenuous attempt has been made to craft a doughnut-shaped, global workspace that reveals and validates the Hike Code by enabling interaction. Emphasizing its people as the core of the office, a mural with coloured hand imprints of employees welcomes the visitor into a coffee-shop themed reception, that is warm and inviting, offering a glimpse into the world of Hike (where people make memories and have fun). Exposed brick, motivational posters, latest tech-enabled visitor registration, murals -- all spell fun.
Given the fact that glass makes up the exterior shell of the building, most spaces receive a fair amount of natural light, while also crafting a sense of openness and transparency throughout the office. With a range of themed rooms and green workspaces that have stupendous views, reminiscent of open gardens; thinking pods that are multi-purpose in nature; the office creates an environment of flexibility, productivity and creativity by identifying six kinds of spaces: service areas, open workspaces, green gardens, spaces of solitude, collaborative spaces and recreational spaces.
Service areas|Driven bythe ‘Maniacal About our Mission’ code, the service areas focussing on delivery form the core of the office, with a central circulation spine that runs through, highlighting the ‘mission’ on one of its feature walls. All other spaces branch out from here, forming the periphery of the doughnut, allowing for easy segregation of space. The server rooms entitled 'Top Secret', form the basis of this core, while augmenting the fun element.
Open Workspaces |Workstations of a minimalistic nature are laid out in a linear pattern, flowing into one another, allowing for a clear line of visibility from either ends. Cross-functional teams that each handle a project, comprise of 6-8 people from various departments; this concept guided the workstation design and hence, seating has been planned accordingly. The code- 'Company > Team > Self' is seen to be reflected in these spaces with boundaries being blurred in the segregation of spaces and the company being at the core of the office. Idea paint being used on walls and columns to enable writing on walls has further given room for brainstorming and ideation that reinforces the team collaboration and the participation/contribution of the self.
Green Gardens | Green spaces are integrated within the workspace to allow one to be in sync with nature, creating a stress-free environment. The grass in these areas is of various heights to create a sense of excitement. Incredible views of the airport and flights taking off and landing, especially ‘at night with everything lit up’ is a beautiful view as one works through late hours as well. A picket fence has been inserted to separate the office area from the garden and all the furniture is hand-picked, with a single focus of ensuring comfort -- rocking chairs, hammocks, bean-bags, wooden chairs and tables etc. In line with the overall vision, these green parks intensify the non-office like environment, into a more campus-like atmosphere that fosters imagination and creativity.
Collaborative Spaces| Spaces for collaboration -- high standing tables, 4-seater sound-absorbing furniture etc. -- can be found at nooks and corners, supported by writeable walls and columns, giving way to productivity and idea generation. Collaboration areas have been placed after every 15-20 seats and the Collaborative rooms, each carrying a unique personality, have been developed with a different intent; some encourage discussions and brainstorming, qualities that are in tune with 'Questions the Status Quo' code, some enhance creativity, allowing people to feel as though they're away from the office in fantasy-land, while others have been created for the sole purpose of relaxation.
Incorporating the code 'Obsession to Deliver Wow', an exclusive spatial quality is achieved within the office by translating Principles of Zen into the collaborative spaces through Zendo, Yon and Shoshin rooms. Zendo for instance, is covered entirely by glass and allows the entire office to be able to look inside. Floor seating allows one to take part in conversation in a typical Japanese tradition. Shifting away from the typical congregation space, The Don Julio high rise bar, in contrast allows one to view half the office, creating a sense of openness, while also being the space to gather together informally. Driven by an array of ideas, These spacesallow people to either shut off from the office or or have a view of the entire office, giving employees the freedom to work in an environment that is best suited for each, again reinforcing the idea of the ‘self’. The ‘jungle’room reminds one of a cabin in the woods, with artificial grass that makes up the flooring, going up to the walls and the ceiling, creating a sense of awe and excitement, to which proof is the fact that this room is almost never vacant. The ‘Lord of the Rings’ makes an appearance in the form of the Bag End, Hobbiton and Shire- where there is an illusion of being away from the hustle bustle of the office. As Kavin rightly puts it, "When you come out, you feel like you've come out from an entirely different world". Cork features on the walls and ceiling, further create an interesting illusion, adding to the wow factor. Gaming is an important component of Hike Messenger, and soon to be incorporated in its tech platform, has also been encompassed into the themes for the group activity rooms, and is manifested in the Teen Patti, 8-Bit and AK-47 rooms, all of which have handpicked, customfurniture , with fun graphics of playing cards or the Super Mario Bros (an original 8-bit game) on their feature walls.
Many other room names relate directly to incidents in Hike's history; ‘Boom’ refers to the first server crash that Hike had, while the ‘Leaky Bucket’ refers to an internal problem that took place in 2014.Others such as the ‘Red Room’, ‘Don't Know’ and ‘Tick Tock’ reveal the essence of time to highlight the 'Fierce sense of urgency' code. Driven by common social media concepts such as the Six degrees of separation, ‘6 Degrees’ and ‘The Garage’, are conceived as informal gathering spaces for people to connect, brainstorm or work in peace. Writeable walls and dual lighting (dim and ambient), further allow the employees to personalize the setting depending on their moods. ‘The Workshop’ is a space designed to be dedicated entirely to the tech designers. Hoping to 'Solve for the User First', it is a room where all the design thinking takes place, and has limited access to only employees with key cards. Consisting of a long writeable wall, high seating, a television and a green-area with bean bags, this is planned as an all-in-one space that can enable people to work comfortably for as long as possible. An added feature is a multiple-mood Philips lamp - one that can change the lighting colours based on mood, using a mobile phone app.
Owing to its inherent spirit of innovation in technology, a tele-presence robot enables people to be present even while they are away. This facilitates constant communication with regional office in Bangalore and for global outreach. A large common boardroom, with a seating capacity of 20 is facilitated with an LCD monitor, a webcam and a Japanese Gong that is rung to commemorate special occasions or milestones. The projector is attached to a puck that is able to track people and sends alerts depending on their location.
Spaces of Solitude | Emphasizing the more people-centric aspects of the Hike Code, Individual Mastery and Autonomy & Ownership are facilitated by means of the more private spaces such as the wall pods that can be found all around the office. Seating is also enabled along the walls, to cleverly utilize all the space available. An ‘Escape Room’, allows for an actual escape from the office, allowing minds to wander, while the ‘Nap Room’ is equipped with a bunk bed for those who believe in power naps to rejuvenate. Spaces are designed to collaborative, yet individualistic; FOS rooms for example are "Fortresses of Solitude” that have cosy seating, a window with a view, beautiful lamps, accompanied by writeable surfaces, conceding the importance of sole thinking to encourage creativity .
Recreational Spaces | In order to promote the health and well-being of the employees, a conscious effort is made to imbibe a culture of fitness through a series of measures including a gymnasium and a meditation room. The meditation room is subtly lit up by means of sound-proof, Japanese paper partition screensand a combination of bamboo and grass flooring fashions a serene environ, where one can unwind. Located right outside the gym, this space is completely sound proof. Stand-alone high tables are designed with an optimum height for people to stand and work, as sitting for prolonged hours is unhealthy. Motivational posters hung strategically, further encourage employees and heighten their spirits. Suggestive of a 70's cafe, the cafeteria is a multi- purpose space, used for meals, events and recreational purposes. The cafeteria is always stocked with milk, lassi, juices, green tea, bread/butter/jam, breakfast cereals and fruits, encouraging healthy dietary practices.
Minimalistic in colour palette, an exposed ceiling painted white is used to create a sense of openness, where spaces are highlighted through bright colours in furnishings or as accents and feature pendant lights. Bright, solid coloured lounges can be found at core areas, for those who want to slip away to take a call or those who want to simply put their feet up or have a more casual work discussion.The building itself is inherently sustainable with features such as storm water management, on-site waste-water segregation and reduced water consumption. Waste segregation is enabled throughout the office. Having seen other offices, one would expect to find files stacked to the ceiling; However, Hike celebrates being a paperless office. A strict no smoking policy extends from the building to the entire Hike campus, invigorating the sacred spirit of the Temple of Excellence.
The genesis of a such a well-rounded design is often the result of a singular and focussed vision. In this case, the company leadership relentlessly drove the quest for absolute perfection in the pursuit of innovative and sustainable design, manifesting itself in various ways in the HIKE Temple of Excellence. The office feels like it belongs to the present - and in the dynamically changing world we inhabit, that maybe the greatest achievement of them all.