Creating Privacy In An Open Office Environment
Open office spaces are all the rage, but they continually catch flack for robbing employees of the kind of privacy commonly associated with traditional workspace models. The abolishment of the dreaded cubicle came at a cost, and many companies have been scrambling to figure out solutions to deal with the increase in distractions and bustle of an open office plan.
Thankfully, office furniture designers have risen to the challenge, and devised new methods of restoring privacy back to the workplace, even in an era where the open model is fast approaching the gold standard. Read on to find out how you can install privacy options without the division of antiquated workspaces.
WHY PRIVACY MATTERS
No matter how extroverted or motivated your employees are, the time will come when they’ll need privacy in order to batten down and concentrate on what they’re doing. The same goes for employees in roles such as H.R. or accounting, who need privacy to talk to people, or concentrate on the numbers.
However, even those in traditional work roles often feel overwhelmed by all the bustle going on in a workplace, and it can have a dramatic effect on performance. Worse, it can actually cause employees to retreat into themselves, which is the opposite of what the open office plan was designed to conquer.
Open offices don’t need to be abandoned, but merely tweaked according to each company’s abilities. Spacing out workstations is a great way to provide a little more breathing room for employees, so they don’t feel as if their personal spaces are being invaded. This is especially true if your company has extra space to leverage.
You may wish to use that space for continued growth, but don’t reserve it for what may occur over time. Instead, utilize it now, and adapt your team as it grows. Nobody wants to feel as if someone is looking over their shoulder, and spacing apart workstations and desks will go a long way towards giving employees a little more reassurance.
CHOOSE DESKING OPTIONS WITH DIVIDERS
There exists a wide range of office furniture desking and workstation options with the open office concept in mind. Many modern workstations and desking options come with customizable dividers that can suit your company’s particular culture and needs, while boosting privacy.
All this, without sacrificing the energy and rhythm of an open office environment. Dare we say, we’re surprised nobody thought of this when the open office concept was initially conceived. Regardless, the idea is to utilize desking and workstation options that offer just the right amount of separation, without isolating the employee like a cubicle might do.
SET UP QUIET SPOTS
Even the best laid out workspaces aren’t always enough to counteract the distractions, which is why it’s important to set up, if possible, dedicated quiet spots. These are areas where employees can go if they really need to isolate themselves for a short period of time, and concentrate fully on their task.
For companies who can’t budget out a quiet space, or don’t have the room for one, utilize what you have. Instead of having a boardroom that only sees use a fraction of the time, make it a quiet zone where employees can head to in order to do their thing. Similarly, a cozy break room can double as a quiet spot for employees who need to get off the floor.
For companies that are able to designate full-fledged quiet spaces, it’s wise to invest in office furniture products that do not shut employees out of the overall atmosphere of the workspace. Consider rooms with glass dividers that block out sound, but still allow employees to feel part of the overall office environment. Being able to see and interact with each other on a non-verbal basis can provide a feeling of camaraderie that can’t be attained simply by shutting a door and disappearing behind a solid wall.
TALK TO YOUR EMPLOYEES
Don’t assume that you know what your employees need or want out of an office space. Rather, pull them into a meeting, get their thoughts and perspectives, and learn what works in an office, and what drives them absolutely bonkers on a daily basis. From there, you’ll be armed with the knowledge required to make smart decisions that can benefit the company as a whole.
Don’t overthink it, either. Not every employee has the same personality, or can handle the same amount of distractions or noise, but it isn’t necessary to cater to each individual. The objective is to gather enough data to get some idea of the different needs of your employees, and design spaces that will accommodate future employees brought into the fold. Always remember, you won’t please everyone, but you can strive to optimize how your open office functions each day.
Open office spaces are not your enemy, and you needn’t resist them due to the inherent drawbacks of the model. Rather, you can tack up those inefficiencies by following the tips listed above.If you’re considering implementing a contemporary open office layout to your workspace, contact us today so we can help optimize your design for maximum efficiency.