How start-up culture is easing out traditional corporate culture!

Virendra Pandit Ahmedabad | Updated on January 11, 2018 Published on May 20, 2017


Some of the successful start-ups in India now look at themselves as nymphets’ marching on the economy’s ramp, while the Old Ladies (traditional corporate houses) struggle to hide wrinkles behind layers of makeup!

How start-ups have influenced the traditional corporate houses?

Even Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) donned the new corporate culture when its CMD Mukesh Ambani embraced an ‘open office’ in the new Jio venture last year where everybody could see everybody else.

Some other major corporate houses have set up their own start-ups for backward integration with their core competence. In places like Delhi-NCR, commercial complexes provide latest, plug-in facilities to a slew of start-ups to launch themselves from the same address in a matter of hours.

No wonder, office complexes across India now increasingly appear empty. In cities like Ahmedabad, many a vacant mall and complexes are up for grabs for cheap, with no takers. On the contrary, some innovative start-up staffers, expected to work-from-home, now function from air-conditioned mall-floors, their new ‘open office’, to beat the summer!

Clearly, ‘offices’ in this new, emerging India are no longer drab, boring with staffers divided by cubicled walls. The start-up culture’s boom — although many startups shut shops recently due to consolidation — changed the old perception as new entrepreneurs revolutionalised work culture and workplace.

The flexible, free-spirited atmosphere in the startup and cozy, friendly workplace feel stands in stark contrast with the more formal and less relaxed environment of traditional corporate houses.

Right from the office décor to sitting area for employees, meeting rooms and from no-dress code to increasing importance to fun activities, startups are doing things differently.

They also encourage a lot of freedom to encourage innovation and make even the CEO friendly with the staff to create open communication channels. Youngsters are, therefore, attracted instantly to a startup.

The start-ups’ success has established that obsolete work practices can lead to stagnant and monotonous patterns in work environment, hampering overall organisation, productivity and growth. Interestingly, more and more corporate houses are realising the benefits of this culture and incorporating in their work style as well. All this has influenced the overall HR practices in India.

“Our work environment is entirely different as we have multi-functional zones working together. Glass cabins make it sound-proof but see-through. You don’t feel working alone but in an ecosystem,” Harsh Shah, Co-Founder, Fynd, a Mumbai-based fashion e-commerce portal, told BusinessLine.

He said technology has shrunk the concept of and space for offices.

“We can manage without an office in many of our operations. This has reduced overhead expenses and increased productivity and profitability. For instance, we have had only 80 employees but our productivity increased four times in one year and we can further boost it up to 10 times with the same staff.”

Shubh Bansal, Co-Founder, Truebil, an online marketplace for used cars, said a near-absence of bureaucracy and hierarchy makes it easy for all the employees to gel with others and put in their best performance. Open-door and walk-in policy for all of them, with no formal reporting structure, makes them all responsible staff members with full accountability.

Many startups, he said, are innovation-promoting unlike traditional ones that expect their officials to only follow well-structured and laid-down standard operating procedures (SOPs).

“Due to these innovations, we have had no attrition at all in managerial side and only 2% in back-office. A single office for the management as well as the call-centre on the same floor makes it easy for us to create synergy. We have no cubicles but have large tables to sit across — and that makes the difference.”

Jubin Shaju, Head, Human Relations, Chillr, a mobile banking app for banks, said this new start-up work culture has made each employee take pride as an entrepreneur.

“We allow them to work even from home, with prior intimation. This has caused lot of disruption in the traditional work culture as the employees now have a sense of ownership and flexibility to work for the best results. They are always ready to work.”

Vishesh Khurana, Co-Founder and Director, Kraftly, a customer-to-customer e-commerce lifestyle and fashion platform, said the start-ups often shun a fixed-time culture but focus on performance by offering a comfortable routine to their staff — and provide for multiple late hours as well.

“And, there is no dress code: they can come to office in the clothes they are comfortable with!”

Published on May 20, 2017
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