A handful of years ago, many organizations – Google being the most notable among them – implemented what has now become known as an “open office design.” As the term suggests, this layout minimizes or eliminates cubicles and other traditional barriers between employees and teams, in favor of large, singular space that promotes interaction, communication and collaboration.
However, in the last year or two, there has been something of a backlash to the open office design concept. This is because some organizations that enthusiastically implemented this kind of layout ran into an unexpected problem: a lack of privacy.
The good news for these organizations — and for all of the others that will implement an open office design in the near future — is that there is no trade-off between openness and privacy. It is easily possibly to have both rather than one vs. the other.
To that end, here are 5 practical ways to make an open office design more private:
1. Create realistic and enforceable policies and rules regarding privacy. For example, organizations can designate certain spaces for work that requires more privacy.
2. Moveable and modular furniture can enhance privacy by allowing teams to customize the environment to suit their needs. For example, when teams want to brainstorm they can connect tables and re-deploy whiteboards. And when the brainstorming is over, they can revert to the original (and more private) layout.
3. Lightweight privacy screens can be an ideal way to enhance privacy, or simply create a more “heads down” environment that may support productivity in certain times of the day/days of the week.
4. Posters can be used to remind employees that privacy is important and necessary. In addition, individuals or teams can put up signs (or switch on a colored light) when they are doing private work, and need their colleagues to make adjustments by keeping their voices down, waiting until later to ask a question or interrupt, and so on.
5. Pumping in some background noise can avoid colleagues unintentionally — but invariably — overhearing conversations. As noted by Small Business Trends: “If you offer some constant background noise throughout the day, such as instrumental music, it can cover up some of the sound from those conversations and allow people who are having conversations to do so without disrupting the whole office.”
If you have an open office design and a lack of privacy is a growing concern, or if you are thinking of implementing this kind of innovative layout and want to ensure that lack of privacy will not be an issue, contact the Key Interiors team today. Your consultation with us is free.