GMAT : Analysis of An Issue

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An Issue

68. Since the physical work environment affects employee productivity and morale, the employees themselves should have the right to decide how their workplace is designed.


Discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the opinion stated above. Support your point of view with reasons and / or examples from your own experience, observations or reading.


I agree that physical workspace can affect morale arid productivity and that, as a result, employees should have a significant voice in how their work areas are designed. However, the speaker suggests that each employee should have full autonomy over his or her immediate workspace. I think this view is too extreme, for it ignores two important problems that allowing too much freedom over workspace can create.

On the one hand, I agree that some aspects of workspace design are best left to the individual preferences of each worker. Location of personal tools and materials, style and size of desk chair and even desk lighting and decorative desk items can each play an important role in a worker's comfort, psychological well-being, concentration and efficiency. Moreover, these features involve highly subjective preferences, so it would be inappropriate for anyone but the worker to make such choices.

On the other hand, control over one's immediate workspace should not go unchecked for two reasons.

First, one employee's workspace design may inconvenience, annoy or even offend nearby co-workers. For example, pornographic pinups may distract some co-workers and offend others, thereby impeding productivity, fostering ill-will and resentment and increasing attrition - all to the detriment of the company. Admittedly, the consequences of most workspace choices would not be so far-reaching. Still, in my observation many people adhere, consciously or not, to the adage that one person's rights extend only so far as the next person's nose (or ears or eyes).

The second problem with affording too much workspace autonomy occurs when workspaces are not clearly delineated-by walls and doors -- or when workers share an immediate workspace. In such cases, giving all workers concurrent authority would perpetuate conflict and undermine productivity.

In conclusion, although employees should have the freedom to arrange their work areas, this freedom is not absolute. Managers would be well-advised to arbitrate workspace disputes and, if needed, assume authority to make final decisions about workspace design.

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