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Is Mobile Office Privacy a Measure of Employee Satisfaction?

by Keith Fentress / March 26, 2015

In my previous post about space reduction, Technology, Mobility, Flexibility, and Beyond, I discussed the relationship between new technologies and mobile work practices and how this relationship is presently affecting today’s office space. In particular, I focused on the trend toward increasingly open layouts coupled with a greater reduction in the overall amount of space provided for a mobile or flexible office.

Despite the strong forward momentum of this trend, I often find myself wondering if the new mobile and flexible office layouts are creating working environments for employees that truly support mobile work practices by enhancing employee productivity and comfort, or are they principally serving as a space and cost savings measure? At this point in the progression toward open, reduced-space office layouts, there appears to be evidence that both may be primary, and sometimes competing, driving factors. It is not difficult to measure the financial advantages of reduced space offices. But how do we measure the suitability of the work environment we are creating for the employees?

Mobile Office Privacy and Employee Satisfaction

From my own observations, accommodations for privacy may be the most critical factor in determining the overall success of the new office layouts in supporting employee satisfaction and productivity. Recent Internet postings such as Privacy Crisis Engulfs Open-Plan Offices, Open Office Or Private Space? and Google got it Wrong draw further attention to mobile office privacy as a primary indicator of employee satisfaction and productivity.Mobile office Privacy - Fentress Inc.

Clearly, during the course of the work day, most employees will require (1) time to focus intensely and individually work on their primary job assignment, (2) time to interact and coordinate with co-workers, and (3) time to address the inevitable personal matters that affect all employees. All three of these activities require a degree of mobile office privacy, both acoustic and visual. Over the next three posts, I will present some of my observations regarding privacy as an indicator of the relative desirability of an open office layout from the employees’ perspective, including issues of noise levels, visual distractions, segregation of focus versus collaborative spaces, etc. These observations may help determine whether employee satisfaction is a primary diving force as opposed to the bottom line of reducing space.

Tags: Open Office Design Mobile Workforce Solutions Space Reduction and Utilization

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Keith Fentress

Keith Fentress

Keith Fentress is the founder and president of Fentress Incorporated. He has an extensive history of consulting to real property organizations. His skills include organizational development, program evaluation, and business process improvement. He enjoys outdoor pursuits like backpacking, canoeing, and snorkeling.