Open space is the most common office layout these days. We can find many positive outcomes from this concept. Communication gets more fluent, teamwork gets easier and hierarchies are swept away. But we lose something that we also need in our offices, privacy.
To Stefan Camenzind of Camenzind Evolution, a design firm, “the need for privacy and focus still exists. The frequent use of headphones would indicate that the work environment is possibly unsuitable for the people using it. People use the resources they can have in hand to find this privacy.” Besides headphones, we can usually see people going to the bathroom or to the stairs to have a private conversation.
Ronnie Heiner says “open office concepts have their strengths and weaknesses. Intelligent office layouts attempt to preserve the former and compensate for the latter.”
There’s been a lot of evolution in open office design and now the main trend is designing to find the balance between collaboration and privacy. At the last editions of NeoCon (one of North America’s largest design exposition and conference for commercial interiors), many products which goal is to achieve some privacy have been presented, like acoustic dividers, sofas with high backs, booths, silence rooms, etc.
As we can see, office design is more and more based on activities rather than on workstations. Offices tend to be less uniform and more diverse, to become adaptable to the different activities they foster. This way, we can achieve the balance between intercommunication and privacy that every group of people working together needs.
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Photo by: Kheel Center http://bit.ly/1KrCwZm