Hike Messengers “new age” office design fits India’s startup culture

By: | Updated: February 14, 2016 9:08 AM

In this era of ‘new-age’ offices, designed to boost productivity and create a positive work environment, Hike Messenger’s new headquarters in the NCR sends out a new message of ‘live, work and play’

Conceptualised as a ‘Temple of Excellence’ by Kavin Bharti Mittal, founder and CEO, Hike Messenger, the workplace has been designed around Hike’s 11 core values, or the ‘Hike Code’. (Twitter)Conceptualised as a ‘Temple of Excellence’ by Kavin Bharti Mittal, founder and CEO, Hike Messenger, the workplace has been designed around Hike’s 11 core values, or the ‘Hike Code’. (Twitter)

In a recent special report titled ‘Their time will come’, Economist magazine mentioned how different societies of the world viewed the young, or millennials, as we have come to know them. While some respondents were worried about how the world would shape out under the millennials, others thought they were ready to take on any problem hurled at them. “Where some see a generation in crisis, others think the young are adapting quite well to the challenges of a changing world. They flit from job to job not because they are fickle, but because job security is a thing of the past. They demand flexible hours and a work-life balance because they know they don’t have to be in the office to be productive…” the report said.

Most of these traits are evident in today’s start-up culture in India. Flexible work hours, recreational spaces and an elegant work-life balance are some of the elements that drive today’s young employees. And building on these elements and other ground rules, Hike Messenger, India’s first home-grown messaging app, recently unveiled its new headquarters. Located in Aerocity, just between New Delhi and Gurgaon, Hike’s new workplace has been designed to encourage an environment, where millennials not only learn, but embrace a culture of ‘live, work and play’ as well. The office, which is spread over an area of almost 60,000 sq ft, with a carpet area of over 35,000 sq ft, can comfortably accommodate over 400 people.

Conceptualised as a ‘Temple of Excellence’ by Kavin Bharti Mittal, founder and CEO, Hike Messenger, the workplace has been designed around Hike’s 11 core values, or the ‘Hike Code’. “The Hike Code is based on our operating principles, core values and how we operate. When we were designing this office, the big question was how do we package these 11 principles into one theme? The theme ‘Temple of Excellence’ made a lot of sense,” says Mittal, who launched Hike in December 2012—as of January 2016, the app has more than 100 million users in India.

As one walks through the donut-shaped office, one can see the various styles adopted to design the space. The 8 Bit room, where employees can brainstorm, hold meetings, etc, is a throwback to the Mario era, with characters from the video game donning the walls, while Teen Patti and AK-47 are twin rooms named after the popular variations of the card game. One section of the office is based on the Lord of the Rings books, with rooms christened ‘Shire’, ‘Hobbiton’ and ‘Bag End’.

The influence of the Japanese and Zen cultures can also be seen. There’s a meditation room as well for those looking for peace and solitude. Interestingly, there are no cubicles and designated offices. Instead, walls you can write on, standing tables, open workspaces and collaborative areas have been designed to create a sense of openness and transparency.

The cafeteria is where employees can indulge in some recreational activities like table tennis and billiards. For fitness enthusiasts, the spacious gymnasium is a boon. And for those who want to catch up on some sleep, the nap room, next to the library, is a healthy addition.

With an attrition rate of 3-4% a month and a fast-paced, high-intensity culture, Mittal says an employee in a start-up usually takes a few months to find out whether he/she can adapt to such a culture. There are bound to be periods of high stress and down time. The Hike office, Mittal explains, was built keeping these factors in mind. “Our old workplace was nice, but nowhere close to this one. We were about 180-190 people in about a 9,000-sq-ft space. I could see the impact it had on the productivity and stress levels…. there was so much noise. The environment has a big impact on how you work. So when we built this office, we made sure that people would want to come back to this space everyday. And we see that happening now… It is also about the people you hire. The best people don’t have to be policed. You have to give them an environment where they can work and collaborate. So it becomes about the people and the environment, a combination that works pretty well,” says Mittal.

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