The Importance of Privacy
Despite the challenges that working from home presented, it created an unexpected productivity boost. However, this was negated by the loss of social capital and collaboration from working in the office. The challenge for business and HR leaders around the world is how to combine the benefits of privacy and collaboration in order to maximise the performance of their teams and companies.
In recent years, the open-plan office has become the most popular office layout, and this is set to continue despite the pandemic. However, this is not to say that an open-plan office is perfect – far from it. While it enables quick and informal collaboration, the very nature of the layout reduces focus due to increased distractions for staff.
On average, employees lose 86 minutes each day at a workspace due to distractions around them in their environment – nearly 20% of their working day. Over time that can have a devastating impact on the engagement and productivity of your people. However, improving productivity in your workspace is simple and cost-effective through careful workspace design and furniture curation.
The 3 Types of Privacy
Privacy is defined as the quality or state of being apart from company or observation, or freedom from unauthorized intrusion. There are 3 elements of privacy that you need to cater for in order to create distraction-free environments for your people:
One of the main drivers behind the move to open plan offices was the huge increase in employee density that it enabled, but this has had an inevitable impact on privacy. Over the last 25 years the average office space per employee has fallen from nearly 200sq/ft to below 100 – in many cases just 80sq/ ft per person. This makes finding a private space in which to focus a lot more difficult.
In the post-pandemic future workspace, it is more important than ever that employees have enough space to both feel and be safe. Effective space utilisation can ensure that your space is optimised for the way your people are going to use it in the months and years ahead so that you are maximising the productivity of both your people and your office.
To truly focus on individual tasks, the vision of the employee needs to be completely free of any distractions, so that the main (or even only) thing to focus on is what they are working on. This is impossible when looking out over an open plan workspace abounding with visual distractions to reduce focus and productivity.
The other element of visual privacy is being unseen by others. The thought that someone might be looking over your shoulder at something confidential is not only a security risk but inhibits your ability to concentrate. Ensuring your space facilitates the right level of visual privacy will mean that your people will be much less distracted and more able to focus on confidential and private tasks.
The third and final element of workspace privacy is perhaps the most difficult to manage. Sound is like water – it can make it through the smallest gap. Open-plan offices are known to be loud and distracting spaces due to a large number of people with few barriers to absorb the high noise levels. The higher level of collaboration in open-plan offices only adds to this problem.
There are several ways to improve acoustic privacy in your office, the easiest of which is the use of acoustic office furniture. Soft furnishings, carpets, and wall or ceiling mounted acoustic baffles can also absorb excess sound in your space, reducing distractions and creating a healthier working environment. This is especially important in spaces that are designed for people to work alone, so that they can feel safe and undistracted, with the peace and privacy to focus on their work.
How to Increase Privacy in Your Workspace
The only way to achieving the required balance of collaboration and privacy is through creating a workspace with a variety of different zones that are designed for different activities. This includes the right amount of collaboration spaces, as well as private and semi-private environments, otherwise your private spaces will be used by those trying to collaborate, which will lead to a noisy and unwelcoming environment for those trying to focus.
By designing separate and distinct zones in your office for private, semi-private, and collaborative work, each of these areas will create its own atmosphere that encourages the activities is it designed for. By giving your employees the choice over how and where they work, you are giving them the ability to work in an environment that matches their needs, dramatically improving their ability to perform.
Acoustic furniture is also an essential part of increasing privacy in your workspace. Office pods and booths are perfect for focus spaces or meeting rooms where flexibility and privacy are key. They can be moved around your workspace as your needs change, and can even be relocated when you do, reducing the need for expensive dilapidation works. Personal acoustic workstations can create mini havens of peace and tranquillity where your staff can really block the rest of the workspace out and focus on what they need to.
Privacy in the Modern Workplace
Our unique FluidSpace concept creates a workspace that shrinks, expands, and even relocates with you. By utilising furniture to create rooms and zones rather than traditional methods of fit-out such as partitions, it allows for maximum flexibility – new zones and rooms can be established without the need for disruptive and expensive construction works.
This enables you to create the perfect blend of collaboration and privacy so essential to maximising the performance of your people. It also enables your people to adapt and reconfigure your workspace to meet their needs on an ongoing basis so that they can be as effective as possible
By allowing and encouraging privacy in your workspace, you are showing your people that you trust them. This will go a long way toward increasing engagement and integrity toward your company. By giving them the time and space to focus alone, distractions will be reduced, and more work will get done.
Not sure where to start? Book a call with one of our workplace furniture experts today. We believe that the fundamental approach to any successful furniture project is to ask a lot of questions and then to listen. Gaining a deep understanding of your requirements and the way that your business operates is the key to providing tailored furniture solutions that will create the most significant impact on your operational performance.