Borderless Executive Live: The Podcast

Reimagining the Workplace

January 31, 2021 Borderless Live Season 2 Episode 8
Borderless Executive Live: The Podcast
Reimagining the Workplace
Show Notes Transcript

Andrew Kris takes a deep-dive into how things have changed since the pandemic began with leaders of Workplace Experience at LinkedIn's Brett Hautop,  and Tetra Pak's Sudhir Saseedharan.

Andrew Kris:

Hello, everybody, and welcome to the latest from Borderless Live. My name is Andrew Kris. And we're going to talk a bit about today the workplace experience, human purposeful places where people choose to work. I'm going to spend a minute or so to talk a little bit about Borderless, why we here and then introduce you to our guests, because we're going to run this as a conversation. And then our guests will introduce themselves in just a moment. A couple of other short things, there is a q&a on the bottom right of your screen. Feel free to ask questions as we go, no q&a at the end of our session. So we're going to take your questions and we bring them in to our discussion, into our conversation. Short second about Andrew Kris. I'm one of the founders of Borderless Executive Search. And we work on precisely that, senior level executive search work and leadership consulting within the global petrochemical value chain, as well as the life sciences sector, and to some extent too in the food and drinks business. Borderless Live is specifically set up as a place for us to have some candid and sometimes deep discussions with a large number of people and with audiences who are experiencing executive life. And specifically, of course, within the sectors that we serve, and people who are contributing to these areas. With that, let me introduce you to our two panelists to Sudhir Saseedharan, who is Director of Eorkplace Experience & Future Working at Tetrapack. And Brett Hautop, who's the Vice President of Workplace Experience at LinkedIn. Sudhir, why don't we start with you first?

Sudhir Saseedharan:

I'm Sudhir and I'm very happy to be here. Thanks, Andrew. And thanks, Brett. A good conversation to be having. As Andrew mentioned, I'm the director of Workplace Experience at Tetrapack. I'm based out of London, I live here with my partner and my dog. I guess these great times have taught us how adversity is a necessity, the mother of all invention, and how we can all try and figure out great things in the way they are right now. And I think this is one of those times where we can connect across borders in a very cool borderless manner.

Andrew Kris:

Thank you, Sudhir. Brett?

Brett Hautop:

Excellent. Thank you for having me, guys. My name is Brett Hautop and I, workplace experience at LinkedIn, for me also includes our design, construction, workplace technology, functions. And it's, you know, I've been at LinkedIn about five and a half years, six years now, licensed architect and always practice as an architect, and found myself in the world of tech, and have absolutely loved it. The last year has been quite an adventure, to say the least. And that whole time has been spent reimagining, you know, what the workplace experience could be, which in a lot of ways is a really compelling conversation, because it's something that hasn't changed much in the last 30 years.

Andrew Kris:

Well you know, thank you very much for the introduction, guys. I think when we look at this, we're talking to a whole group of people that have spent the last year working very, very differently. And if you have worked from a home office, let's call it that, we're going to spend a bit of time talking about what's our 'away from home workplace' going to look like, if indeed that's going to be an important part of our regular work or not. And maybe a good place to start for that to say, you know, what have we learned over the past year, that's going to change the way that we operate in the future? Sudhir, do you want to kick us off on that?

Unknown:

Yeah, sure. I think following up with the phrase that I said earlier, which was "Necessity is the mother of all invention," I think we've learned that we can be agile. And every company has been, or every company in the knowledge industry has been, in a way trying to figure out how you can be productive where you are. If you look at Tetrapack ourselves as well, when we ask for employees, when we ask our managers when we ask demographics all across age, gender, geography as well, about, "How have you been able to do work?" or, "How has your team been able to do work as well?" It has actually happened. We have been able to, within a span of two weeks, change and, two to three weeks, figure out how we need to work now in this environment. Even if you look at it from a customer experience perspective, how do we approach our customers and how do we keep the momentum going through this virtual medium and work that out? It has happened within two weeks, three weeks, and I think that agility, the need to work together towards a common goal of, either it's a common goal and a common enemy of the pandemic as well, to try and get us all together, and we are all in this, all in it together has really helped. So there is a lot of learnings which we can take from this past year.

Andrew Kris:

Indeed, I just wondered whether the the tech sector being what it is had found it easier to transform very rapidly into a different way of working, Brett.

Brett Hautop:

Yeah, we think about that all and talk about it a lot, that we were kind of already set up for this. And I think a lot of it, the reason it hadn't happened sooner, is one, to your point Sudhir, that we're not, we weren't all in it together. If everybody's not doing this together, it doesn't work necessarily, or it's a lot more challenging to get it started. The fact that we were all forced into it, forced everyone to be far more innovative to completely to jump in with both feet, and to embrace it, and say, "How can we really make the most of this? How can we make how can we make this something really positive?" And yeah, I mean, I think you saw it spring into action quickly. And I think most people thought going into this, "this is a couple months, this is 2, 3, 4 months," I remember thinking a lot of things, having conversations about what would change, and what would just people will revert to their old ways. And that in my mind, and from my personal perspective, and I think in the minds of others, that has continued to evolve over this last year, and what we think is going to stick and what we think is going to, what will be, just will go back to the old normal. So I think the tech sector is is uniquely suited to really take advantage of this, but lots of other industries are well, as well, I'm watching the industry that I come from the you know, architecture and design world, they have done exceedingly well in this world. And a lot of that's due to the new software, they started using just in the last few years, they've proven that, you know, the adage is that they've, that industry lives by, is that you have to be looking at each other to be creative, you have to be sitting in the same room. They've proven that they don't have to be. Now they may do it better when they're together, but they don't have to have that to succeed and to really to excel. So I think what we've learned is, we're far more resilient than we thought we were in terms of our ability to be connected when we're not physically together. But I think we've also learned how much we value wanting to be together as individuals and as teams.

Andrew Kris:

A little later then, Brett, we'll try and see how we actually find a way to do that. Assuming a different workplace environment, as Sudhir, in terms of how the industry that you're in has been dealing with the workplace situation, how have you seen that developing? And also from your past experience, of course.

Sudhir Saseedharan:

Well, I would say from at Tetrapack, we have been, even before the pandemic, there has been some very good policies that were being experimented, tried out, for example, we've had flexible workplace arrangements that have been in discussions for a while already. But I think the pandemic has accelerated the need for us to address this at a more fast pace, at a more realistic pace, and try and figure out what is the way forward? The way we look at it right now is this is a great opportunity. Yes it's adversity, and we are really unhappy about the fact that it's affecting a lot of people. But it's also a great opportunity or, or not to waste not waste a crisis, how can you make use of this as a great opportunity for change? How can we propel this forward? So there is a lot of, I would say, light in trying to understand what should the workplace be? And how can the workplace also help us in achieving our strategies that we have put forth for the next 10 years? We have a 2030 strategy at Tetrapack that is how we can vary a certain leadership behaviors of being dynamic, productive and capable. And here we have a great opportunity for the workplace to try and see, okay, how can we create that? How can we bring about these, how can the workplace also support these strategies going forward and use this as an opportunity for change?

Andrew Kris:

So that's your job description actually, Sudhir? Is it? That you've just described?

Sudhir Saseedharan:

In a way? Yes, that is.

Andrew Kris:

That's your task ahead of you. And, Brett, when you're looking at your your role description, does it sound very similar to that? Where is it coming from?

Brett Hautop:

Well, you know, I think my role description, just previous to this current description was Head of Design and Build, and it was really about creating places and spaces and, and, and while it was focused on the experience, it wasn't, it didn't start, I don't think, with the experience. And one of the things we talked about was kind of pivoting the focus of what we do to be about the experience and that really came from the fact that we quickly mobilize to create a remote experience for our employees. And, which, initially is about giving them the resources that they need to have a proper, or as good of a remote experience as they can, you know, that's somewhat limited by their personal circumstances. But, and we realized, it's about helping people be the most effective version of themselves and do the best work in their careers is what we're what we've always been about. But that's about the experience. And, and not necessarily just about physical space. So, you know, that's when it seemed to make sense to start talking about what we do as the workplace experience. And it really tied into, at some point, being able to to directly correlate between the experience you have as an employee, as a worker in an organization, and your ability to innovate, your ability to drive to results and to be effective. Because, you know, we've always, as an industry have been searching for this the holy grail of productivity. Can you measure productivity? And I think we all knew, all of us knew, but it kept coming back up, that was really a fool's errand, there was no way you were going to ever really, truly measure productivity in regards to how it relates to physical environment, because there are too many other variables that could change. But if you talk about it in terms of the quality of the experience, then it can be something that is more quantifiable, more measurable, and and I think, maybe more meaningful to people.

Andrew Kris:

Indeed. And so, you know, what is the, you're coming back to really, what is the purpose of the physical workplace, actually? And is that somewhere, something where you've developed a perspective on, Sudhir? Do you have a view on that? Purpose?

Sudhir Saseedharan:

Actually, we have been, there's been right now, as we speak, conducting leadership interviews all across So, you know, do I need to drive two hours to the office? Or two the organization, we are also talking, we are having employer, employee focus groups, we are also having a full set of future talent that we are having as an employee focus groups as well, to understand this very aspect, the purpose of the office of the future. And I think one of the most important things is what hours there and back every day? And how productive is that? And Brett just mentioned right now, which is about having something meaningful, it is what brings meaning to you. And of course there is purpose, why is it that you're working? How is it that what you do contributes to the larger picture of what the what's the purpose of it? And what's the purpose is the office office, or what the organization is all about. And for Tetrapack, specifically, it is about how you can protect food, how we can protect people and how we can protect the planet? And when you come to the office, how can you inject this into everyone in this context. So what you're really saying, if I understood whenever they are there? It is about that. It is about choice. It is about understanding when an employee comes, why they're coming to the office as well, what is bringing the employee to the office versus being at home? Because we have very clearly understood that there is a need for flexibility. They are not going back to a time where you came to the office to work, you worked where you where you are, you worked where, or you found the spot to work the best. Another big thing that they're also looking at is the user experience in terms of, you got up in the morning before and you went to the office because you have to work. But I think now when you get up in the morning, the employee also thinks, "What is it that I'm going to be doing? Do I need to be at home? Or do I need to be in the office?" And that would be a change in behavior, change in mindset, of how it needs to happen. So yes, the office has a different role compared to what it could have been right now. clearly, was that the office is where you happen to be, or at least your workplace, let me put it that way, is where you happen to be. Well, what is changing the mentality, do you think, of people through the experiences? Some of its been quite difficult for people in the last year. I mean, if you're working from home, Brett, and you have children crossing in the background that you can't quite see because you got some kind of device behind you that's not showing it, but you see the distraction, you see the cat walking across somebody's head, you know, lovely things to see, really interesting and it's human life at the end of the day, well, what difference has it made to attitudes of people?

Brett Hautop:

Well, I think it's made everybody more approachable. I think it's made people that, it really increased the level of empathy between individuals and suddenly, you know, imagine, you know, or think back to going to a meeting with somebody who's your senior, or in, you know, having to run the gauntlet of executive staff, of executive assistants, to get to the point of walking to an office, there's a large, whatever the size of the room is, the whole process builds up this sort of tension inside of you. And when you get there, they kind of control the situation, because you've already come in at a deficit, you feel like you're lesser than somehow. This, you know, when you see people in your C-suite, presenting to the entire company, and exactly what you describe happens, the cat sits right in front of their screen, somebody walks into the background and realizes they're on camera, and unapologetically just walks the other way. You know, whatever it is, it makes you realize we all have these situations, regardless of where you live, or your station in life, or how large your home is, this is the reality. Now some people have the fortune of having space that's their own, that they can get away to that no one's gonna bother them and other people don't. Or have, you know, lots of individuals in their home that need them. And now that they're there, there's an expectation that you're there, you know, kids don't understand, you know, I'm at work at a certain age, they don't know, like you're there. "If you're there, you're here for me, you're not doing something else." So I think that, you know, it has really leveled the playing field and increased the equity between individuals, which I think is very powerful. I'm really hopeful that we're not going to forget this when more people start to go back, and we go to a hybrid model, that empathy doesn't, you know, it doesn't leave us.

Andrew Kris:

So the corner office is no longer as intimidating perhaps as it was in earlier days, or at least the people are behaving differently. We're getting quite a few comments in about agreeing with what you're saying in terms of the last year having broken down some hierarchical barriers in this process. Has that been your experience too, Sudhir?

Sudhir Saseedharan:

Yes, completely, I would say it's, it's a great leveler, it's become a big equalizer. Another thing that also been, that I've also observed, is bringing the team together, which have been global teams. So for example, if you had a team, which was mainly in one region or in one office, and then they had, you had other colleagues in other offices, you have the team in this local office being more closer, because they met more often. But now the entire global team is actually coming and meeting together on a more regular basis, bringing the team together, which is also something that we didn't think of before, we didn't do that before. Now, we've consciously been doing that. We've been consciously been meeting, consciously also asking about each other, "How are you doing? How is this affecting you?" Which normally we would not have asked. So this personal level of interaction has been has been brought to the forefront. Another thing that I also watched is the exact opposite, that is mental well being as well. And that has been, and of course, because of the pandemic, because we're staying indoors, it's also affected our mental well being. At Tetrapack right now, we've also started off. Laura, a great colleague of mine who is with us in a project team, they've just started, Laura, I don't know if you're there, but if you're there a great shout out to you. Laura launched a campaign, which is, "it's okay not to be okay." It's okay for us to talk about mental issues. It's okay. And we also have now a 24/7 helpline, which you can call for anything. It's confidential, and you can call for literally anything that you want to talk to to help you cope with what you're going through right now. This was unheard of before. We didn't really, I mean, yes, we did have it to a certain degree, buut now we have it, now we are, now we're talking about, talking to each other about these things, which we never spoke about before. This change is incredible.

Andrew Kris:

Very powerful. You know, one of the questions which we've we got, we have to address also in our business is, you know, some people in headquarters and some people sitting elsewhere, the people sitting elsewhere inevitably feel that they are somehow being, they're not as good as, or at least being disregarded. As we've made a point of having, even if there's a couple of people in the physically in an office that we used to call our workplace. Everybody has to be online, and everybody has to do things visually, because he brings a balance and brings equity.

Sudhir Saseedharan:

It's no more an outpost, right? It's not, you know, felt like an outpost. You never even though you were in the same team. But if there was a larger proportion of people in the headquarters then it was, there was a divide and now that divide is breaking down as well.

Andrew Kris:

Yeah, indeed, indeed. Very well put on that.

Brett Hautop:

And I think that's one of the, it's gonna be one of the most difficult things to maintain once we go back. Unless companies are very intentional about it, because it is the biggest challenge of a hybrid environment. And it's, it's, you know, can technology solve it? Some of it, you know, I don't know that technology can solve at all, a lot of is going to come down to changing our behavior. And the expectation that, you know, it used to be that if you were on a, if you were in a conference room trying to do a collaborative session, you had six people in the room and two people dialing in. Even if you had a room that set up, we had lots of rooms that have multiple, multiple cameras and you know, facing the participants, the whiteboards, inevitably, somebody would get up and start writing on the whiteboard and cover up the content, and everyone is talking about it, and someone would notice, or someone who's remote would say, "Hey, can you move? I can't see what you're writing." And it was always this sense of annoyance of the people in the room that, you know, and sometimes even if you were trying to bring them in, and to be conscious of it, at some point, you forget, because they're not visually present. So, you can only, your mind can only process so many things at once. And even when it's not, even if that's not your intent, you start to forget about them. So I think, and I've heard a lot of folks talking about this idea of everybody being online, being a square on the screen, everybody calling, you know, calling in from their own device, regardless of where they're located. I've heard a couple different folks now talking about the idea of almost having, you know, a farm of video pods, you know, whether they're phone booths, or whether it's small VC rooms, for people to call in. And I guess you know, what's tough is a big part of the reason we're wanting, a lot of people wanting to come back together, is that physical proximity with other people. So I think we're going to have to figure out something that allows us to have some of both. And I think it comes down to the type of the meeting, the type of conversation, and also being extraordinarily conscientious, conscientious of how you act in a room. We're even thinking about things as simple as if you just change the layout of a room and we go away from rectangular tables that don't have the geometry that allows everyone to see each other, and you go to loose, you know, even think of chairs, on casters, with tablet arms, everybody has a laptop, and you can sit in whatever direction you want. If we can organize ourselves differently in a room, we can suddenly all feel more connected. And it's not going to be perfect, and you're going to have to improve audio, you're going to have to improve video, we've talked about giving people control over cameras on the remote end so they can start to look. But then at some point, you still in that room are likely to forget, at some point that there's people not in the room.

Andrew Kris:

So when you're having when you're having wonderful pizza or, or doughnuts or pretzels. And then you're sitting somewhere else where those aren't there, those kinds of things tend to already differentiate. Right? Not to be too facetious about it. But you're right, those things are really critical. And, you know, we're getting a lot of comments in about how do you handle some of the things that are so difficult to do. Like, for example, you have new people joining the company, you're onboarding, I mean that really, you've had this personal experience yourself, Sudhir. It's a very, very tough task. What are your recommendations on that, the two of you? Who would like to start, Brett?

Brett Hautop:

Sure, I mean, we've onboarded a lot of people in the last year, and the team has done a tremendous job of improving, you know, really going above and beyond what onboarding used to be. We're doing things, you know, and, and so there'll be this, there will be a divide there's on the onboarding of most of our employees has been people who will report to an office at some point. At some point, you'll start to onboard people who are remote employees fully. And that's a very different thing. But we think we're going to need to create physical space that really elevates the onboarding experience, and especially for those people who you're going to hire who are going to be mostly remote. I think it needs to be a really immersive, multi day sort of activity that starts to imbue the culture of the company into you while you're there, that you really feel like you get a sense of what it means to work there. Because I do have, you know, a number of employees who have joined in the last 12 months, who I've never met in person, who have never seen any of our space ,and there, and some of them are even charged with designing some of our spaces, and they've never seen any of them, other than through technology. So I think the onboarding experience needs to evolve, it needs to be more robust, it needs to be more equitable and inclusive. But the other thing I think that we've realized is that the interview process ahead of onboarding, being virtual is actually far, far better than an in-person interview experience because it really does level the playing field and it really does remove a lot of unconscious bias that people have when they meet someone in person and they walk into the room. And it starts to take away the issues of travel, and timezones. Someone is, two candidates, one is coming from the other side of the world and one is coming from across the street, there's definitely an advantage in terms of the ability to be ready, and you know, be yourself when you've just walked across the street versus you've, you know, taken three flights to get there. So I think that whole sequence of showing interest, to interviewing, to then accepting an onboarding, really is going to evolve and really will be, you know, this combination of a better virtual experience, which I think we've really done in the past year, but then creating a far more in depth and engaged in-person experience as the combination really improving that process.

Andrew Kris:

Very good. Very good points, Brett. And Sudhir, you know, I know you've gone through some of this yourself in the last months, too.

Sudhir Saseedharan:

Yes. And in fact, since we are talking about interest, interview and onboarding, maybe I should start with that and start seeing that I think what we now see is that talent is no more based on location, talent is based on talent. So if we want someone that we are specifically looking for, it's not based on where you are, it's based on maybe a time zone that you're in, or legal entity that's in there you can connect to and we have ourselves started doing that as well, trying to get the right people we want not based on the location where they are, but based on the timezone that they are in so that they can work with us, it starts from there. But going on, then to onboarding, I think that a multifaceted, it's multifaceted as well. Because if I look at Tetrapack, ourselves, for the past many years, based on different roles, we have already had different kinds of employees. We already had some employees that were working from home full time already. And that was even before the pandemic. And because of that, our onboarding was, there was a large part of our onboarding that is already virtual. It was a 3D interactive virtual onboarding, which is something that we have been able to use right now in the pandemic so well. So you can actually go in, it goes into spaces, you can move around the space, it talks about what's happening. But yes, that does not completely break off from being there physically, it does not break off from meeting people physically. So there is the multifaceted, so there are some employees who work from home all time, so if they have a different kind of, because of that we have already got the virtual onboarding. However, there is an aspect of mentoring, there's an aspect of getting things done, there's an aspect of learning things of how things are done, and how can we get this done faster by being next to each other. And that happens for certain roles. And that is something that we would need to see how that can play out. And maybe it is that that's times where you do need to be in the office, where you are, where you can get together. And just talk and discuss and take that ahead.

Andrew Kris:

One of our guests who's asking the question about precisely, you know, how do you deal with young people coming into their, you know, first employment or something like that, when they can't actually talk to somebody with a little bit more gray hair or no hair at all, about how they learned from them? You know, what, what brought about mentoring, you know, how does that really take place?

Sudhir Saseedharan:

Exactly. And that is why it is hybrid. And that's why it is not this or that, it is not full time, it's not full virtual, and it's not full physical. Because there is a, we need to make a conscious effort now, just like I said before, when we get up in the morning, we need to make a conscious effort to be meaningful in what we do. We need to make a conscious effort that yes, I'm onboarding three people in my team, I'm going to be there more, I'm going to be their more support, I'm going to support them better. And I think that is, that all boils down to something that we were discussing internally, I think yesterday before about about empathetic leadership, the fact that as a leader, you know what's happening, you can be there for your team as well, and about a trust based culture, and how can you bring that about even when you're onboarding someone, so there is a conscious effort that we would need to make to balance this physical virtual world going forward.

Andrew Kris:

So this is this hybrid situation you're referring to earlier on. I think, right? I know, that's been at the top of your list for quite some time. And given your earlier experiences too, you know, how can you prioritize and improve this hybrid situation? What will it actually mean physically?

Brett Hautop:

Oh, wow. Well, I think there's a lot of opportunity. The reality is a lot of what we've been doing for the last 20 years was a result of, you know, changing from offices, to cubicles, to benching, you know, and most companies were all about how many, you know, we turned the office space into ice cube trays, and then how many people can we fit into the space and then you create all these other spaces around it that are all the spaces where you do everything else. And the idea is funny because you look back at buildings from, you know, the early 1900s and you know, like the Larkin building, the Johnson Wax building, Frank Lloyd Wright brought there were there were kind of these amazing architectural spaces that had volume, they had light, but at the bottom of them were just rows of desks with typists just lined up. And they're all just typing one after another. The typing pool. All of that came from an assembly line mentality that down on a factory floor, you were lined up, because you passed what you did to somebody else, someone did something else. Well, none of that applies anymore. You know, and it may be in the idea of mentorship that applies and that ideas and learning and being close to people who are talking about something, even if you're not talking, they're not talking directly to you, speaking to you, you hear in the periphery, and it builds on your knowledge and your awareness, which I think is the biggest challenge of a hybrid environment. So trying to figure out how to bring that sense of awareness, that that sense of understanding what's happening around you, is one of the things that technology is trying to solve for and is going to need to solve for. But going back to the open office, think we built all this open office as an industry that was trying to, and then try to find ways to make it more human and more humane, better finishes, you know, more panels on your workstations, storage options, all these things that really never though, solve the real issue, which was giving you a sense of privacy, and a sense of place where you could do focus work, what people have found, now you have the people who have a good home environment, who have found that and found that in a way that had never had it before, really, and it's been really powerful. Other folks who have a poor setup for working at home, or live with too many people, or whatever the reason is, they're starving for that back again. But the reality is we can do it better, we need to do it better. We need to create an environment where you have places for people to sit, when they're trying to be in that, in the moment with the team, with the energy, the understanding and the the being part of, we call it ambient awareness of what's going on around you, then you need to have places that are purely for heads down focus work, and it needs to be taken seriously. And that those spaces are created, where you're not going to be bothered when you're there, no one's going to come up and start asking you about the game last night or checking in on, "Do you want to go get coffee with me for the fourth time this hour?" You won't be, you'll have the ability to really focus. So I think that's one thing is the open office has to change, and it needs to solve for both focus work, and it needs to solve for a hybrid environment and the ability to have ambient awareness between in-office and at home.

Andrew Kris:

And that's more than just having a pool table or hockey table, right?

Brett Hautop:

Well, and I think that's that was one of the questions we were really getting into before this all started, we were exploring a lot of these things. And we were already on a path to change a lot of this, but what are, what are those spaces for? What did they, you know, what is their real purpose and intent? But the other thing that is, I think really needs to change, and we've talked about this a little bit before is how we meet. And the reasons we meet. Our conference rooms, and I think this is the case for a lot of companies, before this happened, they were always, always an under supply. And we built more than we ever thought we could use. But they were always in such high demand that it was a problem of constantly people rushing from one room to the next to get a room and booking rooms in advance and trying to, and then you had executive teams blocking spaces so they made sure they always had rooms, which led to further shortage for everybody else. The reality is, a lot of those things didn't need to happen in conference rooms, it was people just didn't feel comfortable having the conversations in open space, or they couldn't get the heads down privacy they need. So one person would take at six person room just to have a call that probably should have happened at their desk. We have to solve for that. And we have to solve for the hybrid meetings that are going to happen. So, the open office and meeting spaces both need to really be rethought in a way that that is going to facilitate this, you know, a hybrid model.

Andrew Kris:

Indeed, thank you. Sudhir, I know you're playing with the same enigmas.

Sudhir Saseedharan:

Well, I could I could say that what we've done is we've we've asked our employees about how has it been? So we've been, when we when we have been doing projects for the past eight years, we've been asking our employees, how do they work? What has been helpful? What do you need to work? For all our projects, whichever we've been doing. So we've had a lot of data, a lot of data and understanding how people work within Tetrapack. Over the, over the past year, we've also done that based on how they've been, what they've been doing at home, and which was, which were the activities that they found worked better at home which surprised them, what do they miss while they were in the office or when they are home from the office, etc. And we found out that a majority, about 55% have told us that you know a lot of focused work can happen or there's more focused work that they thought they couldn't do is happening at work, I mean, at home, and they did miss socializing, they did miss meeting people together, they missed the physical contact of each other. They also saw a reduction in how creative work could happen. I mean, it's not that it cannot happen, but then they felt that if they were physically there, it would change, it would be better. That has all given us a lot of information and data which we are crunching right now, to understand what could the hybrid way of working be. It is to understand that, is then the office a place where you're socializing, meeting, collaborating, creative brainstorming, is it a place where you have the coffee line where you can talk about, or the watercooler discussion and have your townhalls, that's what the office was for. And when you're at home, you will have more of the downtime to sit and, and do concentrated work, or even video calls, which you could take at home if you can, this is not saying that some of our employees can do everything at home and everything in the office, because we have to think of the other 40% who say that, you know, it doesn't work for them at the home. So our offices need to have a proportion that allows for individual work, as well as collaborative work. And for the past few years we have already been doing or having spaces in our offices, which were for individual focus work, which were for phone calls. So it was not, it was never a complete open plan. You always had these little pockets where you could go in and do. I think now it's going to change in the terms of, what is the proportion of these spaces? What is it that you come to the office for? Are they flexible? Can you have a townhall, and a cafe, and working cafe and can you work in these different places and you use your time to meet people? Again, this is not saying that on a Tuesday, on a Wednesday, I'm going to do creative work, and I'm going to meet people, because you will be doing exactly, so the office has to have that proportion. And it has to allow for that change. So hybrid work then would be based on working from home, working from the office, or even working from a partner site. It could be for example, I'm working with my partner that we are working on another project, we decided to go and work there, or it is our field engineers were working at a customer site. So it's not based on two places. It's more of a workplace ecosystem, where you can work in different places based on the work on the job that you're doing.

Andrew Kris:

And what you're opening there, sorry, Brett, is this whole Pandora's Box about how management manages and the trust based management becomes essentially the only way.

Brett Hautop:

And this was well, and this was, and I think most of us had what we're talking about before. People did work in this hybrid sort of way, people did sometimes meet with their partners in other offices, but the workplace really wasn't monopoly. I mean, we were, it was, "You will come to off the office, unless you're one of those few people who's designated that they can do something else," or unless you have a manager, who's a really progressive empathetic manager who understands that I'm just looking forward, to your point Andrew, the results. I want to know that I all I care about is that you're doing your job well. I'm not really concerned about where you're doing your job, as long as it's positively impacting the team. You know, it's up to you to manage that. And I think that's when we, you know, I used to give a talk about choice. And what is real choice. We would talk a lot in the industry about, we've given people all the choice because we have all these different space types within the workplace. But it's really, "Do you want this? Do you want a room with six chairs? Or your own room with eight chairs? Or do you want the company seat? Or do you want the upright seat or you know?" But it was all in the same space, one adjacent to the other, and it was really just about, you know, trying to accommodate a different number of people, or a different physical posture. It wasn't about, where are you most effective in that work that you're doing, that specific work, whether it's creative, whether it's in collaborative, whether it's heads down. And I think this is saying, "Hey, we're giving you the tools you need to do what's right for you, what works for you as an individual, and what works for your team." But I do think technology is going to play a big part in this, or needs to play a big part for this to be really successful, because to your point, Sudhir, if you want to have that convergence of people and energy coming together at certain times, they need to be able to know when those things are happening. And it could be that it happens on a moment's notice. And like, "Oh, hey, we're all going to the office today. It's 9am. And we're all gonna meet at noon, we'll get lunch and then we're going to do this session in the afternoon. Great, you know, who can make it?" Well, I think having tools that allow you to quickly opt in or out of things like that and find out is there consensus, is this something we can do, is very different from scheduling a meeting, sending an email, putting a calendar invite, all the formal things we would typically do, I think if we can make it, and not to mention, I'm at the office or I'm on campus, I want to know if you're here, how do I how do I quickly connect and understand, how do we know that there's, and technology telling us, you know, "Oh, I know you're here. By the way, a couple other folks who I know you'd like to collaborate with are also here, should I send a note to all three of you, and suggest a room where you might want to meet?" That's, I think, where we need to get for this kind of model to be really successful, to go beyond just working, but to see it excel.

Andrew Kris:

Lots of people who are in the, in the real estate business are on this call, I think, on this occasion, do you have some messages for them? And what's the outlook for real estate given? What seems to me to be? You know, it's no, it's not evolution, it will be a revolution for so many people. What's that going to mean for real estate? And what do our offices look like from a real estate perspective?

Brett Hautop:

So, well, I'll start with this one. What I would say is, so, I believe we're going to see an increase in square foot per person in our spaces. So, for a couple reasons. One is I think people will start to give everyone literally a little more elbow room between one another. One, because it's just a little bit healthier sort of environment, wherever, whether it's a, you know, something like COVID, or whether it's just a common cold, it's wise for us to give people the option, to not force them to sit too close to someone else, where there's no chance they're not going to get sick, sitting right next to somebody. Because some people, frankly, you know, will never admit they're sick even when they are and they come in, because, "I've got to come in and show that I'm going to be there," which I also think is going to change by the way, I think that meant that mentality is going to change. But so I think there's going to be increase in space because of physical space for each person, we're gonna have some more space types that we add, to the point that both Sudhir and I think are making, about creating more spaces for those parts of the population that are coming into work at the office to focus versus those who are coming into the office to collaborate and really trying to separate those activities. But I do think that in time, even if you, even if you said, okay, of your population, 25% will likely, you know, if it seems as low as 15, as high as 25% will be permanently remote, and probably remote meaning they only come in once a quarter, or maybe once a month for a few days. But then you're, for most companies, the highest daily average attendance was in the 70s, you know, 70% was really high. Even at that point, you have a lot of wasted real estate, because there's a lot of space sitting empty most of the time. And it really was desk space that was sitting empty a lot of the time. But if we start to see more people choose this hybrid model as a, not as only for those who have progressive managers, and not only those who are really progressive thinking companies, but that most companies go to this world of, "we're all kind of hybrid, and people can work when they need to," you're going to see most people come in the office two to three days a week, and not come into the office two to three days a week. That in and of itself says that, over time, if I go to a model where I'm not assigning a space to every single person, but we're sharing space, and we're in team-based environments where it's not just unassigned, the whole company, anybody can sit anywhere, but it is a team-based environment, people will start to implement sharing ratios within those teams, which will, by default, say that I don't need as much space. Right now my best guess is that we'll see about a 25% reduction in history of how much space we need. And maybe in five or 10 years, it's a 50% reduction, but it is going to reduce. At the same time, I see the need for spaces that are not typical traditional office space, It's space for events, space for the activities that Sudhir was talking about, about people coming in socializing. What about if, I could see the office market starting to get into taking more retail spaces that have been abandoned because of the pandemic, to have a ground, street level, ground floor sort of activity space where, when people want to do an offsite, instead of going to a partner space or a hotel, they might come to a space that that company actually manages and leases itself. So I think that those are the two fundamental changes I see, that there will be a net decrease in overall office space requirement, and there may be an increase in types of space that used to resemble something like retail that are now used for office functions.

Andrew Kris:

Indeed. And Sudhir, what's your perspective on this?

Sudhir Saseedharan:

I think if you look at it, if I look at real estate from a larger perspective of what all real estate can do, and I think just building on what Brett said, there is going to be a change in the way we look at the kind of spaces that we would have in our offices. That's surely going to happen and that's already happening in a lot of places as we speak right now. However, I think there are some things which we need to still consider, when we we are now coming to the office, this is an experience. How and what kind of services are we giving our employees because they're coming? How are we building community? And how can that office actually help and support us in doing that? Is it concierge services? Is it where this is located? What is the food facilities around? What can you do if, how can you add on more things to do when you come to the offices, the post office there, is there are other things around? So I think that does affect and that helps in health elevating or making an employee's work life better as well. So there is services and hospitality, I think that is something that we really need to consider how we can make it an experience for an employee when they come to the office. The other thing, which is very important, I think, which is if you look at what a lot of companies and a lot of people, a lot of the new talents that are coming into the workforce now and in the future. One thing that's a lot on their minds, there are two things that are a lot on their minds, which is purpose, "Why are they coming to the office?" Which we spoke about earlier. But the second thing is sustainability. The second thing that everyone is, that's on top of everyone's mind is, what good are we doing to the planet? And we need to consider how can our workplaces, how can we from our services, how can we as a company, how can we as an organization, contribute towards sustainability? How can we actually do that from a from a realistic perspective? How can we do that in the job that we are doing? It's on the top of mind for everyone. And I mean, I'm saying that a lot more, because that's one of our promises as well. The planet promises, that's something which we are looking at all the time. But how can the workplace also promote that? And I think that is something real estate needs to look at. There are many ways to do it. And I think I'm just, it's what you choose to do for sustainability as well.

Andrew Kris:

Indeed. These are really tough questions to answer. And do you think that there are many forward looking organizations, like both of yours, who are really exploring this question that at the end, we would not have seen jobs like yours five years ago, as we said earlier. Are these jobs coming? Are you meeting colleagues who've got the same job content, if not the same job title, is this something which you are seeing actively?

Sudhir Saseedharan:

Maybe I could touch base on that to understand, even if you think of why do we have a role like this, or within an organization? I think it's, it is cross collaborative, where we are, I am in the facilities department, but I'm working very closely with HR, very closely with digital, very closely with brand, very closely with wellness, health and wellness. And what we're trying to do is to create one seamless experience for our employees. And that is where we are getting to where I'm not saying we were working in silos before, we maybe we were, we were not, but I think now we are working even more collaboratively across these organizations. So that for an employee, it is one experience, it doesn't matter what it is, it is one. And I think that is where we are going and that's why there is this idea of experience coming up. It has come from retail as well. If you see a shopper's experience, what does a shopper get when they're going and taking that into into offices and into an employee experience is what we are trying to do as well. So I think it's coming from this cross pollination of different fields together.

Andrew Kris:

And Brett and Sudhir, what are companies doing, in terms of helping their executives think more progressively on these issues? How do you, you know, what would you do in terms of helping executives change the way they work? Because undoubtedly, we've seen that most people now are extremely, are so much more comfortable, desperately, that a way, doing things, digitally, doing things virtually, that has been a tremendous learning for everybody. And I think that so many people are so much more accomplished than they would have been even 12 months ago. But what else is there in the ideas area that you could use to motivate ideas to think differently about workplace to avoid this presenteeism syndrome that's been so prevalent in so many places. Do you have any advice for those kinds of leaders today?

Brett Hautop:

I, you know, I think looking at, and Sudhir was kind of, I think, talking about this and really suggesting this in what he was saying, and it's that you're looking at your workplace experience holistically and you're not just focused, you know, you're thinking about recruiting and retention for sure. You know, you want to hire the best employees, you want to keep them. And I think going forward, the expectation from people is going to be that they have the freedom and flexibility to work in a way that suits them best in their, where they live, in their family situation, their personal preferences, and that is going to become, I believe, especially for Gen Z and for people after the new currency, Yes, money matters. And yes, they need to be paid well. But compensation for them, as you know, it will be a lot of companies talking about total compensation, total compensation is going to move beyond the walls of just money, and even just benefits, but in them, your ability to work in a way that suits you best. And I think what they're going to find out, if they're not willing to go down that path, that they're going to start to lose their best people to companies who are, because there are lots of companies who are giving those options. And whether it's someone wants to live closer to family, or someone likes a certain environment and wants to live there and be part of that, or part of the community where you don't exist, it doesn't, you know, and so I think you also see companies that say, well, organically in time, they start to have a center of mass in a place because they're hiring people. And there just tends to be a lot of folks in that area that represent the values that that company has, then they decide, "oh, well, maybe it does make sense for us to create a place here." But that's very different from the location strategies that most companies used to have where it was, well, this is where the data tells us that people are that we want. So we're going to put a location there, or this is a market we need to be in, so we're going to go there, as opposed to people kind of organically selecting themselves, selecting and evolution, evolving in a place that then becomes apparent in time. And again, that's just a very different strategy. And if you take that, if you're focused on results, and you're focused on, you know, the work that is being done, the quality of the people you're hiring and the quality of the teams and engagement, it's very different from focusing on attendance, and just getting beyond what was the attendance in a building for a team on any given day? It really is a relative word. This is shown, if you can't see that it's shown that this is irrelevant, then you're not really paying attention.

Andrew Kris:

That's a good point, Brett, absolutely. Sudhir, this is much more than building satellite offices, right? Satellites suggests some kind of corporate centered around which we all revolve. So, is there a way of describing those in your language?

Sudhir Saseedharan:

Well, I've been just to also, to tie into what Brett was talking about before, it's also on top of mind for everyone, in a lot of, everyone is discussing it right now. So firstly, there is a need for every organization to address this. So that's already there. So we don't need to push for getting this on the agenda. It is on the agenda. But I think it is about, what should this then be? And I think that very much touches, based on what Brett you were saying, talking about data, I think it's about why is it and how is it that we are doing what we are doing? And it's about purpose. It is about making sure that the core values of the company are aligned to what we are doing. However, it is also about attracting the right talent, and everything is sort of about attracting the talent and trying to be an employer of choice. If you're not able to give this talent, this kind of flexibility, then they are going to go somewhere else. So you need to make sure you know what you want to give. So there's these different things that need to mix together in order to give us this great secret formula right now. And I think a lot of organizations are trying it out. And we're trying to figure out what it should be. We have not yet, I don't think any organization is going to do it right now. Because we still have a few more months to go through. But I think it's a great, great opportunity and a vehicle for change.

Andrew Kris:

Sounds very, very exciting when we're looking ahead at the way these businesses are going to change, how the workplace is going to change, and hopefully, in that process also become, A., much more pleasant, become places where people actually want to work, as opposed to have to work, and I think your words were "phenomenal workplace," Brett. That's what we look forward to. And I think Sudhir, sounds like you're well on the way to getting the designer and structure together for that. It looks like it's going to be a lot of changes in the way that leaders think about their teams and how they work and look for results rather than presenteeism. That is obviously the case. It looks like we're coming very close to the end of our session. One thing we're really, listening to both of you and and our earlier conversations prior to the session, I just wanted, you know, how did you end up here I think is what people say suggesting you've ended up here by accident. I'm not suggesting that for a moment, but there you are, you're a wonderful designer, Brett, and have gone through a lot of great experiences, and here you are excited about what you're doing. What is it that has personally driven you in this direction?

Brett Hautop:

You know, it was never anything I even thought of or saw myself doing when I realized this, that the job I never knew I always wanted to have. And because what it is, is bringing my love for design and creating places that are about people. And you know, at some point, every architect is on this journey of trying to create architecture as an edifice to themselves in a way, you know, I create something, I was the designer, I was the architect. Yeah, the legacy of, "I'm leaving something behind," and for me, when I did my first office project, it was for a tech startup. And I remember thinking, this is different, because it was about the people. And it was about their actual experience and how I could help them be more effective in their jobs and their careers. That is what I've realized is bringing the creative side with the understanding of people, and what people need to really excel, is a tremendously rewarding thing for me. And I think it's one that you're going to see more people, and I have already been seeing it, there are a lot more people with my sort of background starting to get into this world because they're well built for it, frankly, in the way we've been educated and trained.

Andrew Kris:

That's tremendous. That gives us a lot of hope for the future over everybody has to have a workplace to go to. Sudhir, and, you know, we know a little more about your background, but you know, what is it that's motivated you in

Sudhir Saseedharan:

I think I would, the starting was my this direction? education, I think, because I did my bachelor's and interior architecture, my Master's in engineering in open sciences, and MSC, that was a Master of Science in urban studies as well, the social aspect. So it brings about art, engineering, so project management and social studies at the human touch together. I think that has really helped me to understand what is it that I want to do. However, I was looking, if I look at the project charter, we have created a project charter for the workplace experience at Tetrapack. And we've seen who does it impact? There is an area which says, there's one little box at the bottom left corner, which says, "please state who this impacts" and it's written there, "all employees." The fact that you are actually a vehicle of this massive transformation within the organization is fantastic. I mean, the fact that you can touch in a positive impact that you're making. We had a conversation, I think I mentioned that day before yesterday with some, with a few leaders within the organization, and we were talking that all of this, the work that we are doing, boils down to having a good leadership and empathetic leadership and promoting a trust-based culture. The fact that we can bring this about across so many people and do it with a smile on our face where everyone is happy. I think that's phenomenal. It's really amazing. And it all boils down to having a great, great team that you're working with, the different other teams, the managers that you're in. And fact that the organization is ready for that change and wanting to think that ahead.

Andrew Kris:

It must be gratifying, it sounds like both of you are having tremendous fun. I'm not under estimating the amount of huge energy that's required, of course, but it sounds like you're putting your energies in a very constructive direction. And lots of people are going to benefit from that. If I may, I'd like to thank both of you on behalf of all the people attending this session. And on behalf of Borderless and Borderless Live. Thank you so much for taking the time with this. And to all of our guests who have joined us today, I just want to say thank you very much indeed for taking the time with us. We very much look forward to seeing you next time. And we wish you a wonderful time at your workplace, wherever that might be, in the coming coming weeks ahead. Thank you so much for joining us.

Sudhir Saseedharan:

Thank you, Andrew.

Andrew Kris:

Thank you guys. Thank you Bye.

Brett Hautop:

Take care.

Andrew Kris:

Bye bye