Whether you have an open floor plan or not, employees want private, personal spaces, this survey finds

by Brianna Crandall — November 1, 2019 — Offices are trending toward open floor plans despite employee desires for privacy at work, according to a new survey of 503 full-time employees from Clutch, a Washington-DC-based business-to-business (B2B) ratings and reviews platform.

According to the report, just 28% of employees prefer an office with an open office space, while 52% want private offices.

Clutch office space graphic

Graphic courtesy Clutch

Employees may prefer privacy, but offices are trending toward the open floor plan thanks to companies like Google, which eschews private offices in favor of communal spaces, points out Clutch.

Clutch interviewed nine businesses across the US to learn what a “typical” office space looks like in 2019. The offices ranged from a traditional office space in Wisconsin, to a coworking office in Denver, to home offices in North Carolina and Austin, Texas.

Employees value their personal spaces in the office

Whether a business has an open floor plan or private offices, it must give employees their own spaces, according to the report.

Nearly all employees (98%) have an assigned spot at their office — and they desire this space.

More than half of employees (53%) value their personal space in the office over any other office space such as places to relax (14%), quiet spaces (13%), small collaborative spaces (11%), or large meeting rooms (11%).

For example, employees at Wolfe LLC, a technology incubator and investor in Pittsburgh, can customize their space to show off their personality and interests.

“Being able to display important aspects of one’s personal life inspires respect and trust,” Content Writer and Editor Mary Koczan said. “It encourages employees to be successful as individuals and as a team.”

Offices that give employees personal space encourage them to express themselves, which ultimately leads to a culture of acceptance and increased productivity, found the report.

Some businesses can succeed with an open floor plan

While only 28% of employees prefer an open-office setting, some businesses thrive in that environment, such as Encite International, a marketing agency in Denver.

For example, Encite International employees work in a coworking space, which provides a relaxed, welcoming atmosphere.

“We’re definitely more laidback than your traditional … office,” Content Development Manager Sophie Mann said. “We encourage ping-pong breaks, office puppies, and grabbing the occasional beer.”

An open office plan also motivates employees to work together, according to the report.

“The office is very unique [and] welcoming,” said Digital Marketing Strategist Catrina Carne, of Amazon fulfillment solutions Geneva Supply in Delevan, Wisconsin.  “It gives us a great area to collaborate, be comfortable, and just get things done.”

Employees may not want to work in an office with an open floor plan, but they can succeed in this environment, especially at a company that encourages collaboration, concludes the report.

Overall, the research shows that although there are general trends of US office spaces, there is no longer a “typical” office space. The “perfect” office space varies based on companies’ needs and objectives.

Clutch’s 2019 Commercial Real Estate Survey included 503 full-time US employees. The full report is available to read online.