When the concept of the Open Office started gaining steam, and early adopters like Facebook and Google led the charge, a majority of employers jumped on board. The result, today Roughly 70 percent of U.S. employees currently work in an open office environment. The unintended consequence, privacy is slowly dying.
This may seem grim, but don’t be discouraged. There is still hope for privacy to make a comeback. With the support of business owners who want to help privacy get off life support, a movement is brewing to bring privacy back in style.
Ready to join the fight? Review our in-depth look at why privacy is on a warpath, complete with missions and a tactical strategy.
Mission 1: Eliminate Distraction
Visual distractions are definitely a thing. When a group of people head to a conference room, leave for lunch or go to the lounge, it’s natural to glance and ponder what all the hubbub is about.
You might begin asking yourself:
Does this have anything to do with me?
Can I eat now?
Should I be with them?
A person simply walking by, or texting at the desk in front of you, can be enough to draw your eye. And when it takes several minutes to get back on track, it’s easy to see how a lack of privacy, including office partitions, is causing a real hit to productivity.
Mission 2: Limit the Noise
Then, there’s the office chatter. Now, of course, there are many instances where you want to be an active participant. The free-for-all discussions are one of the reasons open offices are fun and collaborative.
Sometimes, though, there are discussions that you just don’t want to hear. You might be a bit too familiar with a co-worker’s dating life, or perhaps you’ve overheard so many conversations from the sales guy down the hall you could probably do his job. Hearing every other word of a conversation will leave your head swimming.
Mission 3: Remove the Judgment Zone
One of the benefits of an open office is an added emphasis on accountability. Since all of your business is in front of everyone at all times, there’s added motivation to stay on task and keep distractions to the wayside (or, at the very least, give the appearance of busyness).
On the other hand, a lack of privacy can definitely leave you feeling judged, whether that judgment is real or perceived.
Taking a lunch break and catching up on some friends’ posts on Facebook? How DARE you, you slacker. Watching a couple cat videos to take off some of the stress? Uh, do you even work?
This feeling sucks. A lack of privacy is a drain on office morale that would otherwise be boosted by watching cats dancing across your screen.
Tactical Strategy: Restore Privacy
Let’s be honest, office policies that attempt to emulate the atmosphere of a public library aren’t realistic for most companies. Communication and sound are inevitable.
Given this reality, we must attack the enemy head-on. Privacy, in the form of space definition, must be reinstated through office partitions or other means. The best tools to return privacy depends on the needs of a space, but wall dividers are a good launch point for your mission.