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Inside Microsoft’s quest to build some of the most accessible workplaces in India

vjillarmour_0-1638543861957.pngWritten by: Anam Ajmal

By implementing the highest standards of accessibility, this team is empowering employees with disabilities to achieve more

 

After months of working from home, Jeevan B. Manoj can’t wait for an opportunity to get back into the office. Of course, he’ll be happy to see and interact with his colleagues again. But what he’s most looking forward to is experiencing an innovative range of new features that make Microsoft’s two campuses in Bengaluru some of the world’s most accessible workplaces.

 

 

After both complexes were shut to employees in March 2020 due to the pandemic, the company’s Global Workplace Services (GWS) team saw an opportunity to create a complete accessibility makeover.

Jeevan was born with osteogenesis imperfecta, a genetic condition which results in brittle bones that are susceptible to fractures. The software engineer has been a wheelchair user for most of his life, so issues of accessibility and inclusion have been top-of-mind throughout his career.

 

“When people usually think about a new job, they consider the role and compensation being offered. But people in wheelchairs must first figure out if the office building has ramps and see if the restroom is accessible,” he explains.

 

Accessibility has long been a priority at Microsoft, and it was one of the reasons he joined the company in 2019. Right from the time he entered its Prestige Ferns Galaxy campus in Bengaluru, he could navigate every corner of the building on his own without any assistance.

 

“There were no heavy doors to push open, the support staff was approachable and eager to help, and all essential facilities, including the cafeteria and restroom, were accessible,” he says. “They even had taken care of my wheelchair, which had to be stowed and charged overnight after I left office for home.”

Today, Jeevan works as a program manager with the Azure Active Directory team, dealing with hundreds of developers and customers and helping them create secure technologies and experiences.

“At work, it does not matter what I look like. I am judged for what I do. So, my disability takes a backseat,” he says.

 

GWS maintains the real estate and facilities owned and leased by Microsoft around the world. Over the course of four months starting July this year, the GWS team retrofitted many new features to the buildings, which already had more accessibility features than mandated by local laws.

 

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