By Steve Upham : altspace Coworking Office, Altrincham

In the US it’s estimated that 70% of modern offices are designed to a large ‘open plan’ design (1).  The ambition in the design is to promote transparency, remove hierarchy and improve communication. This has been largely successful arguably at the expense of privacy and noise insulation.  Office workers commonly complain about the overcrowding and intensive use of space which makes it difficult to concentrate or discuss confidential issues with coworkers and clients.

So how can we improve the office environment and empower users of these collective spaces?  In this weeks blog I’ll give you 5 areas which you can focus on to offer more balance in the workplace between openess and privacy.

Use portable dividers – It’s incredibly expensive to erect glass and stud walls so look for cheaper, flexible solutions.  Lightweight partition walls can be moved around the office and offer both intimacy and some colourful design options.  Similarly, well positioned plants can really help break a space up and also give out anti-oxidants, purifying the air.  That’s a double win and helps explain why biophilia is a buzzword amongst modern space planners.

Embrace the cubicle – No we don’t want to take you back to the 80’s.  We’re referencing the new trend of private, individual phone booths that are becoming really popular in corporate offices.  They offer amazing sound insulation and now have space to utilise a laptop.

Soften the space – Try adding rugs to concrete and wooden floors.  Alternatively offer soft seating in break out spaces or include some purpose built sound insulation panels to really help reduce noise pollution.  The issue of sound dampening needn’t be at the expense of the aesthetic of the office and in reality can often improve the general look.

Resi-mercial’ solutions – As work and life becomes a little more blurred employers are aiming to offer a more personalised offering to workers to aid wellbeing and job satisfaction.  By introducing some residential design features you’ll encourage greater collaboration and hopefully fuel creativity amongst coworkers.  This can feature unexpected lighting use, the provision of shelving and some sofas for meetings.

Zone your floor – Embrace the contrasts on your floor.  The darker spaces could be perfect for deeper work so make them more intimate and comfortable.  Brighter areas with a lot of daylight by contrast are perfect for workstations and meeting areas.  The use of blinds can help with the challenges of glare however, from my experience the more light you can attract in your space the better.

(1) International Facilities Management Facility