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How to create privacy within the open plan office

Discover the many ways to avoid distractions

The open plan office is a modern environment with no walls or clear divides, designed with collaboration and face-to-face interactions in mind. With the lack of physical barriers, this layout encourages teamwork and a sense of togetherness, which is especially important post-pandemic, with many continuing to work from home. Using the open plan office helps to bring colleagues physically together rather than digitally.

However, there can be disadvantages to the open plan layout, with employees craving privacy and quiet areas to focus on tasks without the distraction of continuous noise. It can be hard to find a quiet space and difficult to ignore interruptions which can in turn lead to poor concentration or stress.

What are the reasons for wanting privacy?

There are many ways in which staff need privacy within the open plan office. Here are a few of the issues and some useful solutions to try.

1. Acoustic disruption

Minimising loud sounds in the open plan office is the main focus to counteract acoustic disruption. First, it’s important to identify what you hear and what you would like to minimise. This could include spoken noise from co-workers on the phone, rustling papers or keyboards tapping away.

The Solution

To counteract acoustic disruption, you need to minimise echoes and dampen sound. Try suspended ceiling Piano acoustics, or modular decorative tile soundboards in different shapes hung on the wall. The geometric shape of these boards are modern and visually appealing. They may also be hung around the office as dividers.

Piano acoustics sound absorbing boards

Acoustic booths are also ideal for one-to-one video meetings or personal phone calls. They allow you to stand or perch but not be cut off from the open plan layout. The booth shape can even improve focus with less to distract you. Alternatively, for a greater degree of privacy, full acoustic booths for one allow you complete privacy to take phone calls.

Piano solo acoustic booth

2. Visual disruption

Often, visual distractions prevent us from focusing on a task. This could be from co-workers walking around the office or people entering the building. You may need to control distractions to focus on general day-to-day tasks or you may prefer your monitor screen to be unseen when handling sensitive data.

The solution

The Alban Pod allows you comfortable informal seating with a degree of privacy for casual meetings. This range of high backed modular seating is both versatile and stylish as well as controlling visual distractions.

Alban high back seater

The Flux modular storage system is fully customisable and can be used as a visual, yet aesthetically pleasing divide for minimising distractions.

Flux modular storage system oak

3. To create designated sections

Zoning off specific areas within the open plan office will help everyone co-ordinate tasks such as concentrating on project work, taking phone calls, participating in meetings or enjoying breaktime. The right furniture along with good design and layout can certainly aid this. Having areas to take a tea break, catch up with colleagues informally and meet privately are all essential in this environment.

The solution

Utilise meeting hubs of varying sizes to help create sections. Use soft, comfortable seating within breakout areas, either with high backs or casual armchairs. You could also try adding closed acoustic booths to help section off the office into designated zones.

Tilly high back sofa

4. To protect information

There will be times within the open plan workplace that you need to keep information private. Keeping written, digital or spoken content confidential can be a challenge in this environment. You may need space to have private meetings to discuss issues and keep digital data from your screen private from co-workers or visitors walking past

The solution

Add meeting rooms or private acoustic hubs with glass doors such as these new Silent Rooms. These modern, stylish hubs help to break up the expanse of the room and come in a range of sizes from single to seating up to 8. You may wish to add frosted glass or blinds for added privacy for one-to-one sessions or to handle sensitive information.

Silent Room Acoustic booth

Our furniture space planning service

If you would like help creating privacy within your open plan office our design experts are here to help. Enquire now about transforming your office into a workspace everyone can enjoy.

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