Towards the end of October, CEAT launched a new office in Borivali, Mumbai. In a LinkedIn video, Anant Goenka, MD and CO, CEAT, shares the story of how they realised the need for a satellite office in the city during a particularly heavy monsoon downpour. The primary reason behind CEAT’s move was the monsoon rains in Mumbai along with the ongoing metro construction blocking major arterial roads. However, most companies would benefit tremendously by setting up satellite offices across the city and especially in major metro cities.
To understand how exactly people can benefit from having multiple satellite offices within the same city or town, we spoke to a few HR leaders on the subject.
But first, let us try to understand what the lack of satellite offices can do.
Why satellite offices?
This year, due to the unusually heavy monsoon coupled with the ongoing metro construction in Mumbai, the western highway witnessed heavy and incessant traffic jams. Diligent Mumbai employees had to go out of their way to reach office. Travelling just one way itself was time consuming. Moreover, increased travelling meant increased stress and susceptibility to physical ailments not to mention the mental strain.
“People were losing out on three to four hours of their time in a day, simply commuting. It gets especially tough during the rainy season, ” says Milind Apte, SVP-HR, CEAT Tyres. Apart from losing out on health, employees were losing out on productivity as well. Needless to say that their work-life balance goes for a toss.
“People were losing out on three to four hours of their time in a day, simply commuting. It gets especially tough during the rainy season. So we decided to open a satellite office in Borivali and the move was well appreciated”
“We decided to open a satellite office in Borivali and the move was well appreciated. An average of 3-4 working days were spent at the new office and almost 30 to 40 employees started working from there. Nobody missed office because of the availability of this option”, says Apte.
The benefits of having an in-city satellite office are plenty, ranging from effective use of time and increased productivity to taking care of health and work-life balance.
There are some basic challenges visible at the outset. For instance, one challenge could be how to maintain effective and constant communication with the workers. It is difficult to have an HR professional in every office, and therefore, implementing and overseeing the code of conduct, ethics and sexual harassment policies, and so on can be tough. Branch offices and satellites usually have junior-management personnel overseeing them. Hiring and managing people at that level remotely can also be a challenge for any HR professional.
Does that mean we should have second thoughts on satellite offices?
Not exactly. The problems mentioned here are bound to arise in any organisation but they can be easily dealt with. Chandrasekhar Mukherjee, CPO, South Indian Bank, agrees with this. “The problems primarily revolve around systems, processes and implementation. With the technology nowadays these are minor inconveniences, which can be overcome easily”, says Mukherjee.
“By opening that satellite office, HR has the opportunity to develop future leaders by looking at how junior managers handle their offices”
Employees in major cities nowadays travel extensively to commute to and from work. Having two or three offices within the same geographical location can be a boost to employee productivity. It can also be an attractive prospect to consider for new talent who want to come in.
Benefits of satellite offices
In addition, satellite offices can present a few unforeseen benefits which can help the organisation to quite an extent. For instance, satellite offices can prove to be valuable places to find out the future potential of the existing talent workforce.
Satellite branches usually employ junior-level managers, who are difficult to manage effectively by the organisation. Such situations can be excellent learning opportunities for the young managers and offers the company a chance to discover high-potential employees who are capable of taking on larger roles. If a worker displays promise, then she or he can be brought back to headquarters to be trained for further career development.
As Mukherjee explains, “If it makes sense for the organisation then good for them. By opening that satellite office, the organisation has the opportunity to develop future leaders by looking at how junior managers handle their offices. As I see it, there are more benefits to it than not.”
Major cities like Delhi also have multiple offices within the NCR region which ensures that they attract the best talent and never have to compromise on employee productivity.