Do You Prefer The Privacy Of Walls Or The Freedom Of An Open Workspace?

Do You Prefer The Privacy Of Walls Or The Freedom Of An Open Workspace?

Some progressive, or at least modern, offices have been trying to go beyond the cubicle to foster productivity and creativity by designing more open workspaces. Because your space can greatly influence how you work, we’re curious: What’s your ideal workspace type?

Photo by Loozrboy.

On one hand, offices completely devoid of walls or other physical separations may encourage more interaction and collaboration. Some companies, the New York Times reports, are even designing spaces that support childcare within an open floorplan.

On the other hand, as many commenters on the Times piece stated, cubicles and four walls allow for more privacy and quiet.

Which do you prefer and where do you think you work best? Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments.

[via The New York Times]


  • At home, I’d love to have an open plan style house.. but I am stuck with a 2 bedroom unit. At work however, I prefer to have privacy and be left to myself to do my work instead of having to continually check over my should incase someone is watching. Not that I have anything to worry about but it’s the “feeling” of not being able to be private at work that is the issue.

  • Give me a fully enclosed private office any day. There’s nothing more distracting then sitting around people who may or may not be doing work that’s anything to do with your job, them having impromptu meetings at theirs desks, or even them taking breaks when your working.

  • Open plan offices would be fine if people were capable of adhering to office etiquette, but most of us aren’t.
    Some people are loud talkers, some people like to slurp peaches while they work and others love to hold meetings at their desk and then dial into a conference on speakerphone with someone else who is only 2 cubicles away.
    Most open plan offices I’ve worked in have partitions that allow you to see over them, and because they are so low they don’t block out any noise.
    This is fine if your office is set up so that you are grouped with people in your team, but where I am we have sales guys on the phone all the time next to engineers who require quiet to focus.
    Open plan offices might be cheaper to build initially, but you pay the price in lost productivity.
    Having said that, low partitions do make it easier to shoot the guy on speakerphone with a nerf gun without having to walk over to him.

  • There are both advantages and disadvantages to Open office spaces. Being able to look over to my colleagues to get an opinion on a subject is great. Having workmates have that same discussion right next to me when I am on the phone, not so much.

    I have actually spent a lot of time trying to figure out the perfect give and take for this problem, like noise cancelling headphones or a set of 4-6 small’ish cubes with common area in the middle of them. But I’m sure that those better than I have crunched the numbers

  • The original spirit of open plan was always that there would be, in addition, enough meeting rooms and small working rooms for those who needed to have conversations, make a confidential phone call, spend time focused on a creative or complicated task, etc. Not to mention separate spaces for eating/recreation.

    But in most cases, employers latch on to the cost and space savings of the open plan desks and don’t bother to construct enough private spaces to support the overall system. As a result, people have small meetings at their desks, eat while working, you name it. And anyone who needs to focus has to resort to earplugs and other strategies.

    It’s a great pity because, properly supported, the benefits of open plan to things like teamwork, open communication and spontaneous collaboration would be fantastic. Instead most people spend their working hours longing for a door, or even a decent partition or two.

  • Currently, I share an office with an aggressive bitch, a loud, arrogant cadet and a manager who might as well not be there. I crave my own space, so that I don’t need to hear the cadets multiple phone calls to his friend, outlining his gambling plans for the days races and the fine detail of his dinner last night or ‘how much he’s doing compared to everyone else’. Nor do I wish to overhear the female’s multiple passive-aggressive discussions with her poor boyfriend. I also need these guys to understand that their immediate priorities are not mine-being in an office away from these guys would require them to send requests for trivial matters via email, which I could priotise, rather than getting into these fantastic passive-agro stoushes when I either ignore them, or politely try to explain to them that I have other pressing issues at hand and will deal with theirs later. I also loathe taking or making calls (business or private) in the company of other workmates. I’m at the point of resigning over some of these issues…

  • While a larger space is more conducive to calm thinking, that’s only true if it contains no distractions – like other people.

    Thus, an open-plan office is great – just not during normal working hours.

  • I definitely prefer a closed plan office because there’s less noise and fewer distractions. In a closed plan office you can still work as a team – just go to your colleague’s office, grab a coffee together or phone them. Otherwise it seems people just sit around talking and never do any work.

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