Updated: Oct 5, 2022
Modern offices around the world are increasingly implementing open office designs. Not only do they feel significantly chill and comfortable as compared to cubicles, but they also boost communication and promote collegiality in the workspace, which leads to more creative thoughts and open dialogues. However, as beneficial as they seem to be, much anecdotal evidence points to the fact that employees do struggle with the lack of autonomy and privacy that open offices eliminate. Hence, the question is: where can we find the balance between privacy and openness?
The perks of open office concepts
Open office concepts have been around for decades. Based on the idea of knowledge work, which means “thinking for a living”, the open office concept aims to increase collaboration, boost “idea flow”, and foster healthy communication between colleagues.
The open office concept has long been appreciated by many companies across industries, especially the creative industry, for other reasons, such as the comfortable vibe that so often are associated with the openness of the office space. Open offices are also more affordable to design as it means lesser partitions and walls to plan and maintain. The openness of the office space also means the flexibility to move around furniture to make room for new employees easily.
However, with the openness of the space, too, comes several “complains”. Employees around the world who work in open concept offices have complained about higher levels of distraction and noise. They do not have as much privacy when it comes to working and do not have much control over the aesthetics, heat, and lighting of the space they are working in. Therefore, employers today are looking for a balance between the privacy of cubicles and the collegial environment of open offices.
Breaking the space: Finding the balance
When designing a workspace, it does not need to be an all-or-nothing process. From moveable panels to glass walls and different colours, there are a plethora of methods to “break apart” an open office.
Using furniture is one of the most straightforward and effective ways to separate space. By arranging pieces of furniture in a room-like setting, employees can be designated a fixed space for themselves. Uniform touches, such as the use of side tables, lamps, and rugs, too, can enable the designation of unique areas. Tall furniture, such as high-backed chairs and couches, stacking cubes, and bookshelves serve well to provide not only additional storage and seating but increased privacy too!
Private pods and booths are also gaining popularity in offices too. They offer employees seclusion and privacy should they need to take a phone call or host an online meeting. Architectural glass walls are also a great way to provide some form of separation and privacy without having to construct a wall or a partition.
Half-walls with the installation of sound masking panels offer privacy and flexibility to pop your head over to communicate with your colleagues while also mitigating the noise associated with an open office concept. You can also distinguish respective sections in the office using colours; you can mark out quiet zones so that employees that require a calm and quiet working environment can head there with peace of mind.
You do not need to go to great lengths in re-designing your current office layout. With proper space planning and playing around with the right furniture, you can build privacy in an open office setting. However, should you require professional advice, it always pays to engage an office interior design company, such as OSCA Asia. Should you decide to do a total office interior renovation, we can assess your office’s strengths and weaknesses, suggesting the best design process to meet your business’s needs. A productive office offers something for everybody: Private areas for introspection and open spaces for spontaneous collaboration.
If you are looking to have your space designed with your employees and brand value in mind, you may reach us at https://www.osca.asia/ to find out more.