Personal Space in the Office: Why Employees Need Privacy

Work in the company often involves communication with colleagues and teamwork. At the same time, each employee needs personal space to maintain productivity. Workers note that the modern layout of the offices turns the team into a large anthill where you periodically experiencing a burning desire to escape and hide in a small room.

According to HR specialists, open spaces did not live up to expectations as fully open offices negatively affect the creativity and psychological state of subordinates. Personal space in the workplace, where others have no access, does not mean that a person is hiding something or plotting something bad. The personal territory is necessary for other reasons and they will be discussed in this article.


Give Your Employees the Right to Be Alone

Samuel Warren and Louis Brandeis in 1890 wrote for Harvard Business Review an article entitled “The Right to Privacy”, which introduced the term “right to be alone with oneself”. In their concept, they stated that each is engaged in its own task, which should not concern the other. This theory implied the establishment of social boundaries and proclaimed freedom of choice.

Over the past hundred years, these principles have not lost their relevance but they are not always implemented in the workplace. Previously, managers paid more attention to the personal space of employees. Offices were equipped with separate rooms, and promotion was accompanied by a move to a more spacious office with huge, wall-sized windows.

Today, employees of any status have lost the opportunity to retire. Many offices are huge halls with rows of tables. Even despite the large size of the room, a person feels in it like in a prison cell. Workers complain that they cannot talk on the phone on personal topics with their doctor or child’s teacher. Designers of modern offices admit that transparency and openness in the workplace have been overestimated.

To prove himself from the best side, an employee sometimes needs to work in silence. The effective performance of work depends largely on the close interaction of employees. Extroverts and introverts need different people and communication. Moreover, regardless of individual characteristics, each of us needs time, which we can spend only on ourselves.


Reasons Employees Need Personal Space

A dedicated and fenced workplace contributes to the birth of new ideas. Each initiative requires a leisurely discussion in a narrow circle, after which you can tell the rest of the team about it. The riskier an idea is, the more time will be needed for its development and testing. If outsiders constantly interfere in this process, then you can fail.

Solitude also helps maintain a general level of creativity. Leaders love to brainstorm in search of a solution to a problem, but an idea sometimes requires thinking in a lonely and silent place. It is better to collect colleagues who have already considered the question and are ready to share their concepts.

Another advantage of personal space is that it helps to increase concentration. In the modern world, people constantly jump from topic to topic, since it is difficult for them to focus on one thing. Such superficial thinking does not lead to a good result. Success can be achieved if you fully focus on the project and give it maximum attention.


Types of Personal Space in the Office

There are several types of personal space in the workplace. It can be acoustic (no one hears anyone), informational (no one knows what I’m working on), visual (no one sees anyone), and territorial (this place belongs only to me, at least for now). During the working day, the employee may need certain methods of privacy, but few people need all at once. In the best offices, a person can choose the necessary level of privacy.


Freedom to choose a place, a way of working and a degree of confidentiality is important not only for fulfilling duties but also for observing human rights. The office interior, which takes into account all types of privacy, as well as the corporate culture, which gives the right for employees to choose their own space, has a significant advantage for active and motivated employees.

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