Thursday, November 8, 2012

How to Create Personal Space in an Open Office

If you work for one of a growing number of companies that have adopted an open office environment, someone nearby may be reading this blog post right now over your shoulder. That's not such a bad thing, but you may feel differently about your neighbor's glances when you work with sensitive information, or when you'd prefer to work without your performance being monitored. And if you're also someone who is easily distracted by chatter, music, or ringing phones, you're probably more challenged at times existing in your open office than performing your job.

Even extroverted individuals who love an open office need quiet, solitary moments on occasion – and not just in the restroom. Below are some suggestions for how open office inhabitants can attain a comfortable amount of privacy without resorting to eye poking or phone smashing.

  • Bring in plants. Place greenery on a variety of levels to create barriers, and enjoy some privacy without blocking out your coworkers entirely. Large plant containers can also provide some privacy.
  • Hang curtains or screens. Consider using transparent materials so light can pass through, and feel free to open and close these decorative blockades as needed.
  • Install room dividers. Panels come in a variety of heights, so walls don't have to seal you off from the rest of the room, and you can arrange individual panels into cubicles or something more area specific.
  • Arrange desks strategically. Bring together the best Tetris players in the office and have them figure out desk arrangements that make it harder for coworkers to stare at each other, while maintaining an open office setting.
  • Wear headphones. Your ears will sustain privacy from onlookers, but most importantly, you'll drown out distracting noises with your favorite music or sounds of ocean waves crashing on a Caribbean shoreline – whichever works best for you.
  • Add filters onto monitors. Privacy filters help protect sensitive information from being viewed on computer screens by unauthorized gazers.
  • Designate private workspaces. If your office still has a spare room where privacy seekers can temporarily relocate, establish that space as a leave-­me-­alone zone, and enforce rules that protect employee privacy.

So, there you have it. Feel free to turn around now and discuss these ideas with your neighbor so you can both come to an agreement about how to best create privacy – quickly. Do you already have some ideas for creating privacy in the office that you've successfully implemented? Please share your ideas with the rest of us!


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