The title of this post might be misleading – in a conventional sense, offices have been designed to give ‘important’ people in organizations space to focus on their individuated tasks… but that’s not what we mean by ‘privacy and focus.’
We think it’s highly important to afford people variable privacy and think about its relative impact on their ability to focus. Remember, focus isn’t a solitary experience – people can focus on things together, and sometimes thats a noisy experience (meetings?) whilst other times it can be quiet (research.)
So, workplace layouts should mix functional needs with things that offer people comfort through an understanding of who is coming together in which spaces to work together in what fashion. People should be given space to explore new ways of finding privacy when it is needed – remembering that we as a species don’t seek out privacy naturally except to avoid shame or to focus on things we need to do alone (which might also be shameful!)
Privacy in the workplace is not something which only some workers require, and should not be afforded through seniority – the coveted corner office of the past may be best suited as a common lounge space where coworkers gather to enjoy each other’s company whilst not disturbing rows of open workstations in the middle of a floor, for example.