Hike Messenger’s youthful and fresh attitude towards its customers has got to start with its staff first, according to its Founder & CEO, Kavin Bharti Mittal
He conceptualised and designed the workplace along with a small, fast moving team comprising a product designer, a graphics designer and the workplace head. All of 28, Kavin Bharti MIttal, heads the company that created the only communication app built out of India. With over 100 million users exchanging over 40 billion messages per month as of January 2016, Hike is by far the 2nd largest messaging app in the country.
Kavin launched Hike in December 2012 and since, have had investments in the company from Bharti, SoftBank, Tiger Global and some of Silicon Valley’s top tech veterans. He completed his Masters in Electrical and Electronics Engineering and Management (M.Eng.) from Imperial College, London. During his summer breaks at college, he interned at some of the world’s leading companies such as McLaren Racing, Google and Goldman Sachs.
Today he has further plans for enhancing the work place for his employees as well says Kavin Bharti Mittal in conversation with Anurag Yadav.
How do you define the modern office space in today’s times?
A modern office spaces allow people flexibility in terms of freedom to work in an environment that is not restrictive but instead fosters creativity and productivity, and finally, the freedom to make space one’s own. It must allow people to walk in feeling inspired, a place where people would do the best work of their lives every day and most importantly, the kind of work that the employees of Hike would proudly tell their kids about one day.
Do you think the ‘informality’ in an office space is a universal standard or there can be reasons for a straight jacketed and formal design as well?
Every organisation has a culture and the workplace needs to be reflective of it. Having said that, times have changed; people live in highly connected and collaborative social environment. Workspaces need to adapt accordingly, especially when you’re engaging millennial employees.
How does it help the staff to be more productive?
At Hike, we have a flexible performance driven work culture. We have different kinds of workspaces – open workspaces, green gardens, spaces of solitude, collaborative spaces, recreational spaces and so on – that can be personalised to our employees’ needs such that they never get bored. Everybody has a different method of working and at Hike, we provide spaces that people can make their own, and work their best from while having fun.
You mention autonomy and ownership as key factors that define your office space. How does it manifest in the design?
Hike is a flexible performance driven company. Autonomy and ownership is the key to our culture. We believe in getting the best people on board and unleashing their potential. Employees then don’t need to be managed. Our workspace has so many options; spaces of solitude, hammocks and the most comfortable seating styles, gardens, recreational and fitness spaces and so on. We’ve got a café stocked 24/7!
Our people are organised in cross-functional teams of 6-10, which drive features and innovations you see at Hike. They are results focused and flexible in how they approach their projects. Once the project is completed, the team dissolves and team members align to other projects. This ensures agility, ownership, autonomy and growth for our people.
Can this ‘newage’ look and feel of the design be a general standard for better staff productivity in any office?
Technology is one of the most fast evolving industries today and hence this is the sector that is seeing most change in the way they approach their people and places. However, any company must decide its own work culture. Ultimately, every business is an organisation and its people set its culture and drive how the workplace should look like.
How has your staffs responded to it?
Most were lost for words. People love the new workplace and we’re still adding a few more pieces here and there. It’s a little more lived in. Once we got employees to the new workplace, I personally took them for office tours in small groups – talking about every little detail. Everyone was extremely excited when we did that. Today, it’s interesting to watch them utilise all the different workspaces to the maximum potential.