How to Improve Privacy, Focus & Concentration in Open Office Environments

Workers all over the world are craving balance. Not just a work-life balance, but balance in the ways they work. As open office environments have grown in popularity, many people are struggling with the lack of privacy they offer. Although open offices can make communication and collaboration easier, they can also invite distraction. Nearby conversations between coworkers can make it difficult for a person to concentrate on a task and there are times when a topic being discussed shouldn’t be overheard by others. Not to mention the visual distractions that can come from seeing what other people are doing all day long.

Privacy and open office environments aren’t necessarily incompatible concepts. Remember that privacy doesn’t have to be all or nothing. By planning open spaces to include options for varying degrees of privacy, you’ll be better able to create a healthy balance between the need for collaboration and the need for quiet, focused work.

woman sits in front of privacy screen in lounge seating

Movable Screens

Movable screens are a simple way to help bring privacy to an open office. One of the biggest benefits of an open floor plan is that they make it easy to rearrange and make adjustments as needed and movable screens allow you to create defined areas and add privacy without losing any of that flexibility.

Whether you want to add just a little privacy to a space or create a more enclosed area, movable screens can help make it happen. A Campfire Screen, for example, adds just enough privacy to make it clear that a person wants to focus but allows them to remain connected to the area around them, while Clipper Screens can be arranged to provide as much privacy as needed.

man sits in lounge seating with attached privacy screen to create individual enclave space


Enclaves are another way to bring privacy to open offices. Some enclaves are fully enclosed spaces, but they don’t necessarily need to have walls on all sides to be effective. To create enclaves without constructing walls, look for lounge seating with optional screens. The Bivi Rumble Seat and Brody seating can both be purchased with attachable screens to block out visual distractions so that people can concentrate without distraction.

Sound Masking

While many privacy solutions for open offices are centered on providing a variety of spaces in the workplace, sound masking systems can help control noise levels without having to move elsewhere. Steelcase’s Sonet sound masking system creates a sound similar to calm airflow, which helps block out background noise and improve speech privacy.

Privacy, Please!

Need to bring some privacy to your workplace? Browse our full selection of privacy tools or contact our design assistance team to work with professionals who can help create a customized plan that fits your needs.
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