It isn’t easy to tell if the new work culture at India’s largest start-up, Reliance Jio, has elevated the rank and file a few notches higher in hierarchy or made the top management, led by chairman Mukesh Ambani, take a few steps down.
But the concept of open office that Jio adopted this week has been a hit, so it appears.
To give an insider view of that eventful Wednesday, Ambani walked in precisely at 1:17 p.m. into the 7th floor of “TC22″ building at the sprawling Reliance Corporate Park here, along with his close confidant Manoj Modi.
Minutes after, his son Akash Ambani — a Brown alumnus — also ambled in, dressed in a pair of black trousers and a tucked in white shirt. No private elevator, no assistants taking notes. No liveried stewards either — the food-stations were self-service.
Even the security for Ambani, the richest Indian and ranked 36th on Forbes’s list of the world’s most powerful people, maintained a respectful distance, despite the Z category status accorded to him by the federal home ministry.
Akash’s twin-sister and Yale graduate Isha Ambani was out of focus area, engrossed as she was in a chat with Jio and retail veteran Pankaj Pawar in another part of the hall. But she is no less important. For the twins conceptualised the open office for Jio and delivered it in six months.
At the epicentre, in walked human resource head Sanjay Jog from his work station. He had a query but did not have to wait for an audience. Modi is seated and the father-son duo prefer to stand. They ponder over Jog’s slides — and in 150 seconds the meeting is over.
Ambani then took a small round and complimented the team with a smile. There was an apprehension initially but the folks were encouraged to keep working and not get up for a customary greeting. Akash then left for his own work area to the right of the hall.
Back at his work station, Ambani and Modi spoke for another 10 minutes. The others settled down by then. A larger review happened over video. Suddenly, one realised that the working day had spilled over to mid-night — as has been the case, often.
But the team saw it as one day closer to delivering Jio.
So, how did it feel to work in the line of sight of the bosses? One Jio leader quipped: “Hands-on but walls-free.”
Image caption: Mukesh Ambani, standing centre, with son Akash Ambani, at his left, confidant Manoj Modi, seated, and human resource head Sanjay Jog, at the Reliance Jio open office on the 7th floor of TC22 building at the sprawling Reliance Corporate Park in Mumbai on Wednesday