In these tough times, to build better collaboration and move towards building an open office culture, Jana Small Finance Bank has decided to restructure its head office and branches. All the senior managers of the Bank have given up their personal cabins, which will now be used as full-fledged meeting rooms. Henceforth, the senior management will sit along with all the other staff members without any barriers between them.
This decision has been effective from April 1, across 611 branches of the Bank, including the head office in Bangalore. As per Ravi Duvvuru, chief compliance and human resources officer, after a long debate within the management team, Jana Small Finance Bank decided to implement this decision as the senior management wished to come closer to the staff, to guide them and create a more open and informal culture at the workplace.
“The objective was remove the physical barriers and work as one troop to show togetherness. For this to happen, the senior leaders must be seen together with all other employees.”
Ravi Duvvuru, chief compliance and human resources officer, Jana Small Finance Bank
Message of togetherness
The Bank feels this is the right time to initiate more openness and convey a message of togetherness and solidarity. The objective, as Duvvuru rightly puts it, was to “remove the physical barriers and work as one troop to show togetherness. For this to happen, the senior leaders must be seen together with all other employees.” This also eliminates any hesitance that employees may have had in walking into cabins of senior managers. “With this initiative, the senior management has become more approachable,” shares Duvvuru during a chat.
Also, this move takes care of the shortage of meeting rooms that the Bank was facing at the branches.
Equality and transparency
Not only have the senior managers given up their cabins, but they do not use any special tables or chairs either, reveals Duvvuru. They will be working on the same tables and using the same chairs as the other staff members. Therefore, “We have also tried to inculcate equality in our culture, treating every individual in the Company as equal, and encourage transparency,” mentions Duvvuru.
Many companies have tried open offices in the past, but later realised that employees did not like it due to lack of personal space. Even small things matter, and employees cribbed that they could no longer place their family pictures or other memorabilia on their desk. The fact is everyone wants their own designated corner – small or big doesn’t matter.
Faster decision making
However, Jana Small Finance Bank feels this major shift at its branches has only given positive results. It has helped the Bank make faster decisions and in the absence of physical barriers between them, the senior management is able to guide the employees easily.
In fact, Duvvuru shares that the employees as well as the senior management team are very happy with this arrangement. They have no complaints about their privacy being taken away. “After all, now we have enough meeting and conference rooms available in our offices and branches where people can enjoy privacy,” points out Duvvuru.
The senior management is really happy with this decision and feel more connected with the employees.
Duvvuru rightly describes this as a very successful transformation, because it is not just one particular team openly interacting with each other, but the instances of teams across verticals sharing ideas with one another have increased significantly so far.
Does this move sound right at a time when the world is talking about maintaining physical distance and following social-distancing norms? “We are operating at only 25 per cent capacity at the head office and 50 per cent capacity at the branches, and social distancing is being followed,” clarifies Duvvuru.
It has been just a few weeks since the Bank initiated this open-office concept. Only time will tell how successful this strategy of ‘building an open culture’ will turn out to be!
Jana Small Finance Bank is a small finance bank that commenced operations on March 28, 2018, headquartered in Bengaluru, India.