Does office setting improve productivity?

Mr Joseph Mugunga’s 15-year accountancy experience has seen him move from shared office space to the cubicle he now calls office.
“I first worked in public service where I shared an office with colleagues. I had just completed university and did not have any experience. Somehow, my more experienced colleagues helped me understand most of the stuff I did not know,” Mr Mugunga, a finance manager at one of the local banks says.
“We were able to work as a team, compete favourably, check our flaws and work on them.”
In an insurance company where he worked next, Mr Mugunga credits the experience of sharing an office with three others for shaping him into what he has become today.
Several offices have adopted the open floor plans (shared space) in a bid to improve productivity.
“In a cubicle, one will spend much of the company time doing his own business. People tend to waste resources at the expense of the company,” Mr Mugunga says. “They can easily make personal phone calls or waste time on social media. It is therefore convenient for companies to adopt the open floor plans if increased productivity is to be attained.”

Helping colleagues
Mr Wilber Niwamanya, an employee of Vivo Energy, is in support of the open floor plan.
“You can easily tell if your colleague is stuck or not able to accomplish a given task and find ways of helping. This also improves team work hence increased productivity,” Mr Niwamanya says.
But does the office setting improve working relations among employees and hence productivity?
No, according to Ms. Evelyn Bahemuka, a learning and development partner with Stanbic Bank.
“It is all about the employees’ attitude. It doesn’t matter where you sit whether in an open space or closed air-conditioned cubicle. The setting is not supposed to impede work.”
Ms Bahemuka says even though team dynamics is very important and that it is good to have an air conditioned cubicle for comfort, it’s the attitude that matters most and impacts productivity.
“Personally, I do not believe in seeing people at a desk. I’m more interested in what they are doing, team work and results they produce at the end of the day,” said Ms Samalie Khainza Nangatsa, an aocate and employer says.
“But an open floor plan creates an atmosphere for easy communication and supervision.”
Also, proximity to colleagues makes it easier to hold spontaneous micro-meetings or gossip that can deter performance.
Psychologically, the repercussions of open offices are relatively straightforward. Physical barriers have been closely linked to psychological privacy, and a sense of privacy boosts job performance. Open offices also remove the element of control, which can lead to feelings of helplessness, according to organisational psychologist Matthew Davis.
In terms of security, Mr Mugunga says an open space office has no privacy to the extent that anyone can access your data.
Also, Mr Niwamanya adds, an employee will shy away from being creative and creating new dimensions of work in open spaces.
“This is because he is supervised all the time. If he logged into his face book account for productive reasons rather than social purposes, he would be taken as a timewaster.”

SOURCE: Daily Monitor


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