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New Steelcase Research reveals lack of privacy in the office is taking a toll on employee engagement.


December 17th, 2014


In organizations around the world, employee engagement has reached alarmingly low levels. A key factor, according to new research by Steelcase, is the lack of privacy employees experience in the workplace and the impact it has on their overall ability to become deeply engaged in the work they are doing.


In many workplaces today it’s difficult for employees to find the privacy they need to concentrate, reflect or rejuvenate – all critically important activities in the quest to innovate and for overall wellbeing at work. The number one complaint from office workers is now a lack of privacy.


Many of today’s workplaces are set up as open plan offices to encourage collaboration. This type of design is highly efficient but the imbalance between interaction and privacy at many offices has reached crisis proportions, taking a heavy toll on workers’ creativity, productivity and engagement. Steelcase research has found that workers not only need places that support interaction and socializing, but also need private places to focus and rejuvenate in order to do their best thinking.

“Over the years we have seen office preferences shift from more enclosed spaces to more open. But in some organizations the pendulum has swung too far,” notes Chris Congdon, director research communications at Steelcase. “Many people do not realize that effective collaboration actually requires individual private time.”


The solution Steelcase advises is an ecosystem of different open, shielded or enclosed spaces where employees can choose the level of privacy they require. This is fundamentally about empowering individuals with choices and giving them control over their work environment. It’s about establishing a culture that values and respects a person’s need to find privacy throughout their day.


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