There’s a lot of benefits to the open-concept office – and a lot of challenges. No cubicle walls or offices might boost collaboration and communication, but it can also mean extra distractions, reduced productivity, and a lot more noise. In short, a lack of office privacy is a problem.
But there’s a solution – or many solutions, actually: products designed to reduce noise and create moments of calm in the ever-bustling modern workplace. Some are simple concepts (think acoustic panels and freestanding partitions), while others would look outlandish at even the most out-there startups (we’re looking at you, Ostrich Pillow). But the goal is a common one: reap all the benefits of an open concept without compromising office privacy.
Here’s a look at eight recently-launched products for increasing privacy in the open-concept office.
The workstation cave
In its latest collaboration with design studio PearsonLloyd, Teknion recently launched Zones, “a comprehensive series of furniture products that transforms the office, challenging convention and changing the way people experience work,” says the manufacturer. The collection includes seating, tables, screens, easels, and other accessories, but the coolest element is the “semi-private hub” (shown above), a wood-enclosed workspace designed for focused collaboration and moments of quiet concentration.
The decorative tile
Acoustic panels are at their best when they do double-duty as stylish wall art, and Baux’s newest tiles don’t disappoint. The 3D Pixel tiles come in three thicknesses and 20 hues that can be mix-and-matched to create one-of-a-kind visuals (a pixelated version of your logo, perhaps?). Plus, the tiles are made from recyclable wood wool, which also regulates moisture and heat.
The relaxation cube
“It is the perfect place for you to make a phone call, work on your laptop or just relax,” says Loook Industries of its Box Lounger, which is designed to provide a respite from the sounds and visual distractions of the office. The 1.5-metre-tall unit is encased in birch with a sound-absorbing foam interior, and comes in a range of down-to-earth and cheery hues to suit any office setup.
The multi-tasking light
Here’s another example of a product doing double duty: De Vorm’s AK 2 workplace divider lamp is designed to hang above common workstations to delineate the space and add ambient LED lighting. But the module also minimizes sound reverberation – the 1.5-metre-long panel is filled with acoustic foam and covered in felt (made from recycled PET bottles).
The flexible divider
“We often get the feeling that within shared public spaces people need something that helps them create their own personal space, within this larger context,” says Note, the design studio behind the Focus textile space divider for Zilenzio. Available in seven sizes, in floor and desk versions, the divider can even be rolled up and tucked away when not in use.
The silent oasis
With quiet spaces at a premium in the office, soundproof phone booths are increasingly popular. Framery’s latest creation, Framery Q, takes it a step further with a two-person “meeting pod,” complete with adjustable tables, LED lighting, power sockets – even coat hangers.
The artful partition
This room divider-slash-acoustic panel by BuzziSpace is inspired by modernist architecture, giving it a sculptural abstract art feel. BuzziBlinds feature five felt-covered panels (available in four shapes, two sizes, and a range of bold hues) that rotate as needed to open up a room or close off an area.
The hanging hood
This is as out-there as we’ll get (though if you’re into the claustrophobic pods, Yasmine Benhadj-Djilali’s wall-mounted cubby is worth a mention). Tomoko’s felt shade essentially acts a blinder to all surrounding bustle, helping you to “create an immediate territory of your own by eliminating elements that interfere with your concentration, such as noise or visual distractions,” says manufacturer Vivero. “At the same time, it signals to others that you are not to be disturbed.” Designed by MottoWasabi, it comes in both freestanding and desk versions.