Latest Posts

New cannabis bill could see construction taking the high road

The proposed amendments to the Cannabis for Private Purposes bill that seeks to further decriminalise cannabis usage and legalise South…

Read More..

Luxury vs ultra-luxury – What’s the difference?

BESPOKE LIFESTYLE: There are a number of key factors that distinguish ultra-luxury homes form the rest, not least that they’re…

Read More..

Creating sustainable growth and reducing poverty through structural transformation

Urban development domains ACRC’s analytical framework uses the concept of urban development domains to transcend both sectoral and traditional systems-based…

Read More..

A root cause of flooding in Accra: developers clogging up the city’s wetlands

Christopher Gordon, University of Ghana Ghana has six designated Ramsar sites. These are wetlands designated under the criteria of the…

Read More..

Nigerian property crime could be reduced if neighbourhoods were better designed

Adewumi Badiora, Olabisi Onabanjo University Nigeria has a very high crime rate. The Global Peace Index ranked it the world’s…

Read More..

Inner cities are growth engines attracting young homebuyers

Inner city living is boosting the city residential property market and driving urban rejuvenation Inner cities. Love them or hate…

Read More..

Kenya’s push for affordable housing is creating opportunities despite barriers

Raphael M. Kieti, University of Nairobi; Robert W. Rukwaro, University of Nairobi, and Washington H.A. Olima, University of Nairobi In…

Read More..

Heron IVC: Walking the green talk

Waterfall is closing the loop on waste Waterfall prioritises sustainability and responsible environmental stewardship as a strategic imperative, keeping the…

Read More..

10th Sep 2022

Architect Africa Online

Africa's Leading Architecture Aggregator

Working from home an “invasive alternative” to social interaction

“We are not using technology: technology is using us,” says Mark Barnes Purple Group founder and former South African Post Office CE.

South Africans have once again battened down the hatches following this weekend’s announcement that the country would be placed under adjusted level 4 lockdown. With somewhat glacial progress in the vaccine rollout, citizens are having to do what they can to protect themselves from the virus.

This means more virtual meetings and what many local and international experts, and commentators are calling ‘zoom fatigue’. It’s been one of the biggest gripes amongst employees in organisations across the world. In countries where the majority of citizens have been vaccinated against the virus, this move back to office is well on its way.

Zoom fatigue is only one of the problems working from home. Efficiency, productivity and social cues are all taking a hit.

Purple Group founder and former South African Post Office CE Mark Barnes is firm on the issue: there are several disadvantages to working from home, notably that as social beings, people can’t interact meaningfully anymore. This, he says, impacts negatively on both efficiency and productivity.

Barnes recently spoke to Linda Trim of Giant Leap, South African workplace specialist, during a podcast series titled ‘Where is the Office’. Giant Leap has undertaken extensive research over the last year to determine the future of the office since lockdown.

Longer working hours

According to Barnes, while people no longer spend time travelling to and from the office or deal with the inconvenience of sitting in traffic, there is a definite shift in ways of working. “You’re constantly in demand and working longer hours than ever before. This is an invasive alternative to social interaction. We are in back-to-back meetings, there’s no time for lunch, no drinks after work or gathering for a coffee,” says Barnes.

Lack of social cues and body language

Barnes finds it difficult to connect in the new virtual office space. “You can’t see social cues like hand gestures, or read body language. These are all important critical parts of communication within organisations.

“Talking to a flat screen is nowhere near as interactive as seeing people in a room and getting a feel for the room one-on-one,” says Barnes.

The inefficiency of perceived efficiency

Working from home is perceived by some to improve efficiency, but Barnes believes that it doesn’t produce the same cohesive output as a team would normally do when working from the office. “The sum of screens is not the sum of individuals,” says Barnes, by way of debunking the perception that employees showing up virtually are as engaged as meeting and collaborating in person.

In addition, Barnes is critical of the generalised view that technology is improving ways of working and positively enabling the new work from home. “We think that technology is making our lives easier but there is a two-way invasiveness about technology. We are not using technology: technology is using us.”

Office culture and socialising

Barnes maintains that they hybrid model of working from home and the office isn’t enough either.

“The current quiet of the office is disarming and unsettling. People are in defined spaces, and we are aware of our space and the distance between us. Those things are not pleasant. We are naturally social beings. We like being with each other, shaking hands, kissing, saying howzit. We are missing that.”

“The office gives us the opportunity of engendering spirit and changing things that are not on the surface but rather something that lies deeper – the culture and oneness, the feeling of being part of a team,” says Barnes.

Syndicated content from Leading Architecture & Design


If you find this website useful please spread the word.

Follow by Email