Open offices are great for collaboration and creativity–but not so much for privacy. There are some clever ways to get around this conundrum, though. With well-designed office furniture, your workspace can return to a place of focus and productivity.
If your office is so quiet that it feels like an echo chamber and every word uttered bounces off the walls, it might be time to consider a white noise system. This article gave a great explanation of how white noise works: “Basically, white noise is the production of audio frequencies over the entire range of human hearing. Because of this, it’s capable of covering up sounds that would distract you or cause problems at work otherwise.”
Muffle the Minutiae
So, white noise encompasses all the sounds ears normally pick up to muffle the ones that might sidetrack you–a coworker tapping his foot, someone eating at her desk, the printer beeping its error message. How many white noise machines do you need? The article mentioned above gave this suggestion: “For multiple-office use, 2 for every 3 placed in between entrances.”
Designate Quiet Spaces
A Harvard Business Review article had the simple but effective idea of devoting an entire area to silence: “Similar to a quiet car on a train, businesses can use an empty office or unused conference room and turn it into a ‘Quiet Room’ that employees can go to when trying to focus on an important task or project. These spaces are designated for non-group work and can help provide a place for workers to be more productive than at a shared desk or in a cubeless office.”
The Harvard Business Review article had another smart idea: “Walls can even be decorated with pieces that double as both high-quality soundproofing materials and unique pieces of art.” Hex, a stunning hexagonal wall hanging from Ghent, has the option of an acoustic surface. Not only will your walls help absorb sound, but they’ll look spectacular while doing so.
Divide and Conquer
Smart office furniture can be an excellent way to create privacy but have the flexibility to adapt to changing business needs. Pallet, space division furniture, can do just that. Designed to fit the needs of today's open-plan workspaces that are mobile, cooperative, and configurable, Pallet provides space delineation while allowing environments to feel open and airy.
In addition to being an innovative way to create microzones, Pallet forms collaborative workstations for meetings, brainstorming sessions, and even impromptu desks through optional accessories. Pallet encourages the open office concept to accommodate the way you and your team work.
Keep the Peace
Whichever steps or combination of approaches you take, one thing is for certain–your employees will thank you for helping them maintain privacy and quiet in an open office. It can be difficult for workers to advocate for their needs, but if you can be proactive in helping protect their focus, the payoff will be big productivity.