Bringing privacy to the open plan office.

A recent report from Jones Lang LaSalle investigates ways of bringing privacy into open plan offices.

Open plan offices a reality in many workplaces today. They can be great for collaboration but often make it harder for employees to focus and complete tasks that require privacy.

For instance, many employees in open plan offices feel that they are always being watched, which can cause them to avoid engaging with other workers or seek privacy in spaces away from the desk (toilets, stairwells etc.).

According to Bernice Boucher, Managing Director in JLL’s Strategic Consulting Group:

“The lack of privacy at work is a clear crime against productivity. Enlightened organisations are recognising that it’s a win-win to treat privacy as a right, not a privilege’.

To some extent, design can help. Workplaces that allow for multiple work styles are ideal, but there are simple measures that can be taken to introduce privacy back into the workplace. E.g.

  • Allowing for movable screens and walls
  • Having re-configurable workspaces
  • Filtering out excess noise through sound proofing or background music. 

Workplace privacy is part of a wider conversation that needs to take place between managers and employees.

Ultimately though while workplace privacy seems like a design issue, it is actually part of a wider conversation that needs to be taking place between managers and employees. Funnily enough, employee engagement actually flourishes when they are given a chance to avoid others. 

Employees need to know that it is acceptable to seek private spaces or work away from their desks from time-to-time. 

Read the full report here.