One of the happiest work places that I have seen is the Whitefield campus of SAP Labs India, a subsidiary of German software giant SAP. It’s not just me saying this. The birds say it too, over fifty species of them. This is home for Purple-rumped Sunbirds, Purple Sunbirds, Flower peckers, and Rosy Starlings, Warblers, Flycatchers and Eurasian Golden Orioles migrate 3000 km in the winter to lark about here.
Only 30 percent of the 23 acres is built up and the rest of the prime real estate is open space. Having run out of desk space, the company rents additional space in a building next door preferring not to build on its own campus.
Talking about desks, the offices are not huge horizontal sprawls but narrow to let natural light in. Buildings have inner courtyards that give a feeling of being in a rainforest. There is a fabulous flow of light from the covered atrium and the huge windows which naturally curb the use of artificial lights.
Wherever I go, I hear the soothing trickle of water that has proven to help people focus better. An amazing feature in the newest building – where it was impossible to have flowing water at the higher levels – is the sound of water subtly playing over the speakers.
Special tinted and reflective double glazed glass reduces solar heat gain and reduces the use of air conditioners. The abundance of greenery both within and without keeps the place remarkably cool.
I have seen companies that proclaim that they are keen on green only to find them using horrendous amounts of chemical pesticides and fertilisers. At SAP, 400 kg of waste generated everyday at the offices, cafeteria, juice outlets, and pantry is fed into an organic waste converter. After 14 days of processing, the odour-free homogenized compost is used in the campus gardens and the surplus given to NGOs and employees for their home gardens.
There are a whole lot of other eco-friendly practices – not just policies – LED lights, ozone friendly refrigerants, solar energy, rain water harvesting and so on. Telepresence has cut the need for staff to travel between the Bangalore and Gurgaon campuses. “We want to reduce our carbon footprint”, Ferose VR, the dynamic young Managing Director tells me. The most direct way to do so is to make the daily commute pollution-free and while it does provide shuttle coaches, the company also gives a host of benefits to employees to own and use the Reva electric cars. In fact, the only way Ferose can ensure that he gets a parking space is by getting himself a Reva as parking is reserved only for these eco-friendly cars.
-Sandhya Mendonca (Sandhya Mendonca writes a weekly column 'My Bangalore' for Oheraldo)