Be accommodative at your work place

Every employee has the responsibility of stewardship with respect to workplace accommodation. Their role is to assist members so that there is harmony in the workplace, writes CONNIE MUSISI


The last one month has been tense for me at work, until it crossed my mind that I had actually ‘humbly applied for the job’.

Recently I wanted to get accommodation (desk and chair) for a colleague. The idea was not welcome immediately but knowing the kind of people I was dealing with, I did not expect any better response. “An extra person will suffocate us! We are already many and the room is not well ventilated,” was the reaction I received.

This scenario reminded me of two comments by the university officers where one needed transport urgently to get errands done, but was told to use an ambulance. Really!

Workplace favouritism and persecution on any basis, is illegal. For example, discrimination on the basis of sex is illegal.

It is a requirement that all employees be accommodated (a place to stay during work hours) in the workplace, unless doing so would drastically endanger the employer’s operations.

The employer is obligated to provide an accommodation that meets an employee’s needs, but not necessarily her or his preferences. Appropriate accommodation is one which results from equal opportunity and respect for individual dignity.

Office accommodation can be temporary or permanent, depending on the circumstances of the individual

What one should do is let your colleagues know that you are glad and comfortable enough to share facilities with you and do your best to assist them.

In case of differences, refer to an appropriate individual who can help, instead of being indifferent. While individual personalities vary, in case you are new in a work place, remember that there will be one or more individuals who will embrace and welcome the new kid on the block. So relate closely with those.

The supervisors can also reassure the person that is indifferent about the new arrangement of workplace accommodation. Point out to them that accommodation is not special treatment for anyone but simply a matter of employee rights.

Encourage staff that requires accommodation to speak out. Ironically, some employees are reluctant to come forward to acknowledge their own accommodation needs.

Although employees may decide to quietly work out their own space needs, such arrangements may not survive the next change of supervisor.

The issue of workplace accommodation is to be open and informed about the process. In your dealings with your colleagues, present it as a normal part of work relations, which it is.

Finally, the professional world of teamwork forces us to work together with co-workers we may not know. Those situations are fantastic opportunities to learn the ins and outs of another person and diversify your own professional experiences.

The teamwork rhythm you are used to may not be applicable in this new situation, but if you make a concerted effort to be accommodative, you should have no problem completing your tasks together.

The writer is the Career Development and Placement Officer