US Steelcase Inc brings stress-free workspaces to India

March 13th, 2008 - 12:01 pm ICT by admin  

By Vishnu Makhijani
New Delhi, March 13 (IANS) US-based Steelcase Inc, a $3.1-billion company, is seeking to leverage its almost century-long expertise to grab a share of the pie in the business of providing stress-free workplaces. With multinationals increasingly upgrading their workspaces to improve employee efficiency, Steelcase feels it can achieve a lot in India.

“We are recognised worldwide for creating stress-free workspaces and enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of employees with our unique products and services,” Uli Gwinner, president of Steelcase (Asia Pacific), told IANS here.

“Studies have proven that ergonomically designed products reduce stress and improve comfort levels at the workplace,” Gwinner said.

“We estimate the overall workspace market in India to be in the region of $1 billion. Of this, the high-end segment accounts for some $150 million. We are aiming at 20 percent of this market.

“We are well positioned for this because almost all the MNCs in India are our clients in countries around the globe.”

Towards this end, the Grand Rapids, Michigan-based company that was founded in 1912 has opened its first Steelcase Worklife Centre at the IT hub of Gurgaon on the capital’s outskirts. It will open a similar facility in Bangalore soon.

“Thereafter, we will spread to Hyderabad, Mumbai and Chennai in the near future,” said the Hong Kong-based Gwinner, who was here for the opening of the Gurgaon centre.

The choice of cities is not surprising as a recent Nasscom report has said that the IT and ITES segment has the maximum demand for office furniture and that there is a change in the way offices are being designed.

Four of the five cities on the Steelcase radar have a sizeable IT presence while Mumbai is widely considered to be India’s financial capital.

“Our Worklife Centres are designed to support our user-centred research findings on how a work environment can enhance innovation, communication, work process learning, and decision making and thus impact the business results of any organistation,” said Praveen Rawal, who heads the Steelcase India operations.

According to Gwinner, with the rapid growth of corporate India and globalizastion of the Indian economy, “workspaces are no longer just desk arrangements but have evolved into trendy and futuristic comfortable spaces.

“We at Steelcase understand this trend and bring with us vast expertise from our international markets to deliver products and services to meet these requirements of the Indian corporate sector,” Gwinner maintained.

Asked what had prompted the company to foray into this country, he replied: “We were told we would have to come to India to find out if we were cost effective. We find the conditions here the same as in high-end markets around the globe.

“We have worked out a clear business strategy and see significant growth in the next five years,” Gwinner explained.

At the bottom line, how much would it cost to equip an office with the Steelcase range of products?

“Well, let’s say you want to set up a 200-workplace BPO. It would cost in the region of $250,000. That’s not too high a price to pay if you want to keep your attrition levels down,” Gwinner added.

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