How to Make your Workers Love Their Cubicles Again


 According to recent research in Sydney, AU, roughly half of workers in open floor plan offices and nearly as many in small cubicles say noise is a problem, and makes their workday harder. Specifically, it’s “lack of sound privacy”, meaning employees constantly have to hear their neighbors’ chatter and don’t feel that they can have any privacy on their own phone calls or conversations.

In addition, around 30% of these same workers don’t feel that they have “visual privacy” either. Constant peripheral movement can be extremely distracting to a worker trying to finish a project on deadline, and when the visual distractions are amplified by constant noise, the environment can be detrimental to productivity.

How can companies help deal with this issue without going back to expensive, square footage eating private offices? Choosing the right cubicles is the answer.

Cubicles that are rated for absorbing sound can be your first line of defense. The slightly higher cost will pay off in huge dividends as employees relax and are able to better concentrate. Instead of cramming noise cancelling headphones on their heads or resorting to ear buds in a desperate bid to block out some of the sound distractions, they can retreat to the privacy and quiet of their cubicle and conduct business in peace.

Higher cubicle walls are also a huge benefit. Privacy screens or panel extenders can be used to customize each cubicle, creating barriers between workers who need a more private space to work effectively and leaving those who work best in a collaborative setting with more availability to each-other.

Finally, offering a private place for personal phone calls and other instances where privacy is appreciated (such as pumping breast-milk, testing blood glucose or administering insulin injections, etc) can greatly alleviate the feelings of privacy loss experienced by many cubicle workers.

Bottom line? Cubicles are still better than open office plans, as they can be modified for employee comfort, productivity and retention. Open offices seem to be a lost cause, according to the data which University of Sydney researchers say validate earlier findings that uncontrollable noise and loss of privacy are the main sources of workplace dissatisfaction in open plan offices.

“It clearly indicates the disadvantages of open plan offices clearly outweigh the benefits,” said one of the research studies founders.

Cubicles can be a viable solution – the trick is doing cubicles right. Are you taking steps to make your workplace a better environment for your employees?

 


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