It’s not exactly breaking news to say that the physical office environment has a direct impact on employee satisfaction. And the trend towards open office plans in general has had a negative effect on satisfaction levels in many cases. Employers may feel that they’ve taken reasonable steps to ensure privacy, but as the old marketing maxim says, “Perception is reality.” In other words, if employees think they lack privacy, that is the reality for the leadership of that particular company.
That in a nutshell explains “perceived privacy:” the level of privacy in a work environment really is determined by the opinions of those who work in it. Given the negative effects of environmental stress on employees, this is a real issue for employers.
The two main concerns in workplace privacy are visual privacy (“Are people watching what I’m doing?”) and acoustic privacy (“Are people eavesdropping on my conversations?”).
A European study of several hundred employees at more than two dozen companies of various sizes revealed that the workers expressing the highest satisfaction with their physical environment were those working in cell-offices. That’s no surprise, since “cell-office” translates to a traditional space with permanent walls and doors.
Among those working in shared office spaces, the employees in flexible spaces were happier overall than those in open floor plans. Again, no surprises there, since the concept of a flex office is all about converting the space to current needs, including those that require privacy.
A flexible office plan really offers the best of both worlds, and the advantages of both the traditional cell-office and the open office. The ability to reconfigure space as needed, quickly and easily, offers privacy when it’s needed and an environment that’s more conducive to teamwork when that’s called for.
Questions about planning flexible space for your office? Contact Douron