When the open office trend started gaining momentum, there were a lot of very well-intended motivations behind it. Cubicles had gotten a bad reputation and companies were looking for ways to improve communication, encourage collaboration, and help people feel more connected in the workplace. In some cases, companies also liked the idea of promoting transparency and putting everyone on the same level by taking down the walls that used to separate people. However, despite how great all of those goals are, the rise of open offices ultimately opened the door to a lot of other problems.

One of the biggest mistakes companies make when adopting an open office is not allowing for any privacy. Teamwork helps drive innovation in the workplace, but it’s not the only way to work. In fact, research from Steelcase has found that putting too much emphasis on togetherness at work can hinder productivity more than it helps.

Different types of tasks call for different environmental needs. There are times when people really need to be able to focus on a task by themselves in peace. And when people are working together, it’s nice for them to have a place to go where they won’t be distracted by other activity in the office. Office privacy doesn’t have to be all or nothing; there are many different degrees of privacy that fall between an open plan office and a private office. Designing an office to include varying degrees of privacy gives people the power to work where they will be their most productive.

Courtesy of Steelcase

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