Quite a toss-up, eh? No pun intended! 

“Watch out!” she yells. He ducks; just in time, her `sixer’ missing his head by inches. 

It is lunchtime on a Monday. The winter sun shines weakly through the practically-all-glass windows as a game of office cricket unfolds in an open area, near a cluster of workstations. With a Herman Miller chair irreverently used as a wicket, a group of cricket enthusiasts bat, bowl and field with practiced ease. Loud laughter resonates across the floor. They have the space more-or-less to themselves, while the hungrier amongst them partake of lunch first. Obviously one of the fringe benefits of working in an asymmetrical building with odd-shaped corners: its angularity offers welcome extra space for the sporty ones. Did you say `working’?!

The cricket match captures the sense of liveliness and camaraderie high up on the 17th floor of this office building in Gurugram.  The 250-odd employees have moved from a 19-year-old office pretty recently. And, change is here. Keeping the opinions of all those who were to share the space in mind, the overall design now shouts `accessibility’ and `multiple collaborative spaces.’  `Me’ and `we’ spaces a-plenty. The most obvious change is that the number of cabins have been reduced from 50-60 earlier to less than a dozen now. Red, of course, is the colour palate everywhere. Need one ask why? 

Creativity has been expressed across all vertical surfaces through graphic design. Empty bottles, cleverly stacked horizontally, make a divider and doors are decorated with bottle cut-outs. If the designer was looking for `cheery’, well, she succeeded. Wall muralist/ artist Abhimanyu Ghimiray’s Mario Miranda-que work in particular is un-missable – imaginative, thought-provoking, wacky and fun. And large.

One trade-off is the reduction on the use of the phone – so much easier to just walk across and chat. Or hang out at the café for a meeting. And if there is that phone call that one has to make, the silent rooms fill that purpose. And if there is a heated, creative meeting going on next to one, the handy headphones are reached for. 

Everyone has a favourite corner – probably close to the beverage counter, on one of the umpteen red bean bags, or a nice sunny spot on a sofa next to window maybe? Eenie-meanie-mina-moo! For Arashdeep Singh Sehjal, the informal workspaces work. “You don’t always need a 1-hour conversation, sometimes it is only a 10-minute status check, which you can easily do sitting with multiple people. So these spaces help,” he says. Surely lending credence to Thomas Allen’s (management professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management) discovery that physical proximity and communication are highly correlated. The Allen Curve holds true for both face-to-face and digital communications—in other words, even digital communication is faster between people who work close to each other.

Pooja Bansal, the principal designer at Design Domain, the interior firm that worked on the office, found: “People are always in the collaboration spaces, and less at their desks, with not more than 50% people at desks, and just as many people in the collaboration spaces.”  

Cheers from Coca-Cola’s Indian headquarters in Gurugram. Game over; now it is time for lunch. What is on the menu today?