Remember five years ago when you decided to redesign the office to have an open floor plan? The idea was exciting, and your employees were on board with the decision. Fast forward to now; privacy is at an all-time low and employee’s productivity is suffering. So how do you encourage collaboration while still offering privacy when it’s needed? We have a few suggestions.
Redesign Your Open Office
The feeling that someone is watching you work is an unsettling one. The need to take a phone call, read a confidential email, or simply sit in peace, arises at least once a day. A lack of privacy fosters a need to constantly be working, even if that work is unproductive. Your manager may be watching so you better type for the sake of typing!
To create an environment that is built on trust and encourages employees to do their best work, consider a few changes to the office layout. Moveable panels allow team members to create a collaborative workspace on a whim. Installing dividers between desks will offer privacy without the stifling feeling of cubicles.
If visual privacy is the issue, a screen filter is a great option to stop snoopers in their tracks. Screen filters allow the user to see what’s on the screen if they’re looking straight on. If they look from an angle the screen appears to be black. This provides employees the comfort to respond to confidential emails or prepare for a performance review without the fear of someone reading over their shoulder.
Plants will also provide some visual privacy while white noise can drown out conversations. Wool or felt can be used to line cubicles to keep sound levels to a minimum.
Activity Based Planning Model
With an activity-based planning model, employees have the option to work at their desk, a phone booth, or a small meeting room. Phone booths are ideal for conference calls and demoing new software, while meeting rooms are perfect for, well, meetings.
With the activity-based planning model, you may want to think about implementing some rules and new tools for each of the areas. No phone calls at a personal desk will encourage the use of phone booths. Providing employees with laptops will enable them to freely move about the office while keeping their work with them.
With an activity-based planning model you can trust that your office will be productive, engaged, and private!
Lead by Example
Many times, employees feel like they can’t use the amenities and spaces provided to them at the office. Even if private rooms are available, utilizing one could be seen as goofing off. For this reason, it’s important that managers make use of the phone booths and meeting spaces just as employees should. Take your phone calls in a private area and pull people into a meeting room if you need to have a discussion.
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