Bangalore: Going to office? Take your apron

Monday, 2 December 2013 - 12:46pm IST | Place: Bangalore | Agency: DNA
To provide recreation to their employees, companies are going all out to keep them engaged via activities such as cooking, carpentry and teaching different languages.

Companies in the city are grooming in-house teachers. Employees who are skilled in the art of gourmet cuisine, creative writing, modern art, foreign languages etc are passing on that talent during office hours. Thus, the office gets converted into a part-time workshop where employees gather around the ‘teacher’.

Companies like Airtel, Thomas Cook, Infosys and TCS, among others, are going all out to keep their employees engaged via non-work related activities. With work schedules getting busier every year, firms are doing their bit to keep fun quotient of employees high.

Rashmi Kashyap, manager, information security, Infosys, found the perfect platform to teach unique and traditional dishes to her fellow Infoscians. “There was a time when I was not into cooking. However, since I did not find a good cook, I was forced to learn cooking and realised that it is no big deal. I wanted to teach my colleagues some of the traditional dishes which I learnt from my mother,” says Kashyap. She has held both live classes as well as recorded video classes.

Nandakumar K, consultant, industry solutions group, retail CPG and logistics, Infosys, is both a student as well as teacher. “I enrolled myself in cooking classes just before Diwali to learn some of the traditional dishes. It was great. Also, I have a fair bit of knowledge in the advertisement space, hence I decided to take creative advertisement classes for my colleagues worldwide. It is a great platform as I get a chance to showcase my talent and, at the same time, learn something new, all free of cost!” he says.

The programme has generated huge interest among employees, says Nandita Gurjar, senior vice-president, group head of education and research, Infosys. “We believe in creating an educational ecosystem where colleagues can educate one another on their areas of interest.
Hence, we came up with a common knowledge-sharing platform called Teach@Infosys. The principal objective of this platform is to create a mutual learning environment that will further enhance the capabilities of each individual,” she says.

It’s catching up
In fact, more and more companies are using it as a tool to build a conducive working environment. At Airtel, knowledge-sharing sessions include cooking, carpentry, aerobics, yoga, painting, photography among others.

“We have thus imbibed a host of employee-friendly activities focused on breaking away from the monotonous and tedious life cycle,” says a spokesperson from Airtel.

Another such initiative at Airtel is e-learning of Kannada, which is focused at helping non-Kannadigas in the company get familiarised with the local language.

“I have enrolled myself for the class. It has been three months since I came to Bangalore and I have already learnt basic words. the initiative is great,” says Divya Pandey, an employee in the organisation.

‘It’s a win-win idea’

“Nowadays, every organisation wants to make the workplace fun. Such activities and classes provides a break to employees from their otherwise hectic schedules. Also, it is a great tool to unlock the talent in a person,” feels Sunil Goel from GlobalHunt.

Adrian Williams, head, human resources, Thomas Cook (India), opines that such non-work related activities enhances performance and creates a delightful spirit of fun at work.

“What better way to personalise such initiatives than by having our own employees conduct them. So we’ve had a neat diversity of such activities- from salsa classes to foreign language sessions.”

Programmes on offer
Cooking: Companies ask their employees to teach cooking to fellow employees. In some firms, this teaching is not restricted to the employee’s campus. Through video conferencing, employees working in other branches too can pick up the culinary secrets.

Language classes: Some companies offer free coaching for languages, including the local language, like Airtel is doing.

The telecommunications company has a Kannada class for its employees who don’t hail from Karnataka.

Carpentry, aerobics, yoga, painting, photography are other activities that find a place in the corporates’ strategy to alleviate the stress level of their employees.


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