While there are valid reasons to consider an open floor plan for your business (particularly affordability), the case for privacy is still strong.
Science on the private office
As of 2014, seven out of every ten offices used an open floor plan. This type of workplace layout was first introduced in Germany in the 1950s. The basic idea was that by breaking down the barriers between employees, a business could enhance interaction and collaboration.
In 1997, as businesses started to consider the open office as a way to cut down on the square-footage needed per employee, a study was conducted at the University of Calgary on one large company making the transition. Before and after switching to the open model, psychologists measured workers’ happiness with their environment, sense of stress, productivity levels, and feelings toward their coworkers. In all metrics, the open office failed.
Similarly, a 2011 review featured in the International Review of Industrial and Organizational Psychology determined that the open office was detrimental to concentration, ability to complete tasks, innovation, and mood.
The fact is that your company may not be able to afford individual offices for employees, but it’s worth taking another look at the issue of privacy in your layout, since the above research speaks so strongly in its favor.
One of the primary reasons a private office should be considered is the issue of attention. “Without distracting sounds, sights and smells drifting through, the resident of a private office can focus on the work [they are] being paid to perform,” notes the Houston Chronicle, “which can lead to greater productivity and less conflict in relationships with colleagues.”
Space to spread out
The negative side of a private office is the fact that it takes up too much space, but that can also be seen as a positive. There is typically enough space to meet with a coworker and to support whatever furnishings will improve job performance. There is also more room to place documents and supplies.
Finally, it allows every employee to achieve their own rhythms. For instance, at Stack Exchange in New York City, workers come and go at different hours, based on the times of day they are the most productive and energetic. “Management’s job is to accommodate that and create a space where all those conflicting needs don’t congeal into a persistent hum of distraction,” notes David Fullerton on the company’s blog. “Private offices put the people who do the actual work in control.”
Expertise with layout and furnishings
Are you interested in exploring private offices, or figuring out how to optimize privacy within an open floor plan? Whatever your needs, Beaux-Arts Group can help by creating distinctive, high-performance workplace interiors that address your dynamic needs. Contact a design specialist.