Privacy in the Corporate Office and the Home Office

The Wall Street Journal had an article about what architects and interior designers think would make a perfect senior manager office; an office that supports productivity and inspiration. Out of four nationally known design firms all four proposed a glass wall between the private office and the common office space Their theory is if the boss could be seen working it would both support his/her image as a leader and make them more available to their teams and colleagues. While the overused closed office door isolates managers and inhibits communication, I don’t think doing a pendulum-swing to the other extreme is the answer. The word “fishbowl” comes to mind. Total lack of a visual buffer is counter-productive too.

What to do when your office feels like a fishbowl

A client of mine moved into an office with a glass wall to the common area and her productivity plummeted.  People walking by would catch her eye and come in for a chat.

We came up with the solution of adding sheer curtains to the glass wall. She would leave the curtains open when she wasn’t working on deadline and was available to her colleagues. When she had to focus on a project she would close the sheer curtains. Outside light would still be available to the inner office. People could see her in there working, but could not see her well enough to catch her eye.

Privacy without exclusion is the ideal. Architectural Psychology tells us every human being needs both privacy and connection with others. Too much of one or the other results in problems

She reported her team learned that the curtain meant “do not disturb” and untimely chats significantly decreased and her productivity increased. The lack of eye contact and distractions from passers-by also helped her focus better.

In the home office distractions can be physical, visual or auditory: usually in the form of a family member coming into your workspace, distracting activity within view of your desk, or disruptive noise invading your space and your concentration.

What do you do to support your privacy when working at home?  Let me know how you maintain privacy when working at home. I will address this in a future post.

photo by sleepyjeanie