OFFICE PRIVACY IN THE OPEN PLAN ENVIRONMENT IS A CRITICAL WORKPLACE ISSUE.

The crisis around office privacy has become a widespread workplace trend. Open plan offices have many benefits but without including enclosed spaces, too much interaction and not enough privacy takes a toll on employees’ creativity, productivity, engagement and wellbeing.

“The need for privacy—at work as well as in public—is as basic to human nature as is the need to be with others,” explains Donna Flynn, director of Steelcase’s WorkSpace Futures research group. “The harder people work collaboratively, the more important it is to also have time alone—to be free from distractions, apply expertise and develop a solid point of view about the challenges at hand. People also need privacy to decompress and recharge.”

This is compounded by the fact that we face more digital and human distractions at work than ever before. These breaches in our attention carry a destructive ripple effect, and once a distraction occurs, it can take as much as 23 minutes for our minds to return to the task at hand, according to recent research done at the University of California.

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Being constantly interrupted at work can be frustrating. The challenge in the workplace today is to balance needs for individual focus and collaboration, especially in open plan offices.

Empowering your people with choices and some control over their workspace helps to lessen office privacy issues.

LEARN MORE

Harvard Business Review
Balancing “We” and “Me”

Steelcase 360 Magazine
The Privacy Crisis

Washington Post
Google Got it Wrong