How to create privacy with cubicles in an open office floor plan

Open office layouts are all the rage in today’s business environments. In fact, some of the world’s largest companies, with names like Google, have embraced the collaboration inspired by open offices. In fact, studies show a 15 percent boost in productivity in companies that encourage collaborative working and the concept of creating and sharing information has steadily infiltrated office culture.

However, not everyone is a fan of an open office environment and while many people welcome a collaborative setting, being crammed in a space with no privacy ultimately defeats the purpose. Creating or updating an open layout should include visual privacy while reducing distractions and here are some handy tips to make it happen:

Create privacy however you can

Even if it is just an illusion, it is very important to include personal space.  For example, employees can experiment by staging a tall plant along with a small shelf on their desks to create personal space, or face outward from the larger group to lessen visual distractions.

Make use of meeting spaces

Well-designed open offices always include meeting spaces or smaller rooms to use for personal phone calls and other tasks. Take advantage of these spaces to conduct private business to help keep common areas a bit quieter.  Don’t have meeting spaces? Seek out a stairwell or head outside to get a break from the bustling scene.

Block the noise

If it is difficult for you to leave your desk, try noise cancelling headphones or traditional earplugs to tune out distractions. Many workers listen to music at work but if that in itself is distracting, try a white-noise app on your phone to channel your choice of soothing sounds.

Be respectful but speak your mind

Everyone working in open offices must be mindful of others in the space. With that in mind, be sure to remain respectful with things such as noise levels, perfume, fragrant flowers, and strong-smelling food. (Think microwave popcorn.) Use common sense and cover your mouth when sneezing and stay home when very ill so you don’t share it with your fellow employees.

If you simply don’t appreciate an open office, or it negatively impacts your work, speak up. If something is bothering you, such as loud or personal conversations, go ahead and politely ask people to take conversations elsewhere or at least keep their voices down. Some people might not even realize they are being disruptive.


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