An open office space environment has become popular recently, with many people supporting the idea of a collaborative work space and its relaxed atmosphere. Some commercial real estate brokers are learning from their clients about such usage and learning there are definite drawbacks to this type of floor plan – the main one being privacy. This raises the question of whether open offices all they are advertised to be. Those who lease commercial office space point out the inherent lack of privacy to consider before leasing such a design.
Work Space Privacy – What is Expected?
There is always a loss of privacy in a work environment, even within a closed office area. This is exponentially worse in an open office, where everyone can see and hear co-workers. Privacy is important for many reasons that includes protecting personal and client information as well as keeping job specifics private. Collaboration is a good motivator as a large communal work space; however, a certain amount of privacy is still necessary.
Old and New Trends in Work Spaces
Open work space is really not new, as early commercial office buildings were like this in the 1940’s and 1950’s. Employees worked side by side in large rooms, with virtually no privacy at all. As some point, employers discovered productivity suffered due to the noise level, as well as different personal and work habits.
So this type of commercial office environment changed – first to offices and then to cubicles that provided a new level of privacy – and production soared! Over a period of time, this space began to shrink and workers were pushed into smaller spaces, which caused production levels to decline. This was partially due to a lack of collaboration, as employees were boxed in, separated and unable to work together easily. Remedying this situation brought about the re-emergence of the modern business work space – but not without its flaws.
Good and Bad Open Office Spaces Today
In some commercial work environments, open work areas are a good idea, especially when small groups of people need to work together. In other situations, this type of real estate environment serves mostly to reduce privacy, causing employees to block others out with ear buds and headsets and other ways to work around an undivided work space. This completely negates the purpose of an open office space for collaboration, which is reduced when employees attempt to gain some work privacy to avoid the noise and distraction presented by co-workers doing their jobs. Essentially, an open work place has become a “Catch-22;” it alleviates certain problems, yet ends up causing others.
So what is the right answer? Tenant reps who specialize with commercial real estate know there is not any one right answer; however, they can help clients determine which type of office space is best for them. Commercial real estate brokers play an important role in helping clients analyze their commercial office space needs, evaluate employee work habits, and examine the work that must be done to determine what workplace privacy is needed to make the best office floor plan decision possible. There will always be some compromise, regardless of which floor plan is chosen, which can help make selection about workplace privacy choices easier!
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