Poll Results: How much privacy do you think employees should be afforded at work?

A couple of months ago, we posted a poll regarding how much privacy employees should be afforded at work. Should employees be given their own spaces and a degree of separation from their coworkers or should their worklife be an open book to those around them?

Your responses indicated that every single one of you thought that at least some employees should have their own distinct spaces in the workplace. 0% of respondents answered that nobody should have private space at work.

Almost half of respondents (47.2%) said that everybody should have their own private space at work. This is in keeping with a traditional office model where everybody has a room or at least a cubicle that separates them from their colleagues.

Advantages to this model include working with fewer distractions and noise, a place to put files and materials that may be confidential, and, to a certain degree, a sense of ownership over that space that can make an employee feel more connected to the organization as a whole.

The next most popular answer, with 30.2% of the vote was that employees who deal with confidential information should have their own spaces. In a way, this caveat seems like a no-brainer for most organizations. Most states have laws about how certain types of information, such as social security numbers, credit card information, and medical information is stored. In the absence of a place to work on this material away from prying eyes, companies risk violating these laws and, at the very least will cost an employee valuable time while she attempts to do her job discreetly.

A smaller percentage of respondents (15.1%) saw private space as something that was occasionally necessary and answered that individual spaces were not necessary as long as there was a spare office or lounge that could be used by employees when necessary. This is closer to the models used at schools and hospitals. A handful of employees at these places have their own offices (usually those who have the aforementioned confidentiality concerns) while the majority of teachers, nurses, and other staff share space.

The advantage to this model of work is that colleagues are forced to interact many more times throughout the day. While there is a space to get away just for a moment, the vast majority of moments are not spent in isolation. This can make the day go faster and can help to build the kind of relationships that will sustain an employee’s enthusiasm for her job.

Everybody agrees that at certain points during the workday employees could use a moment away from it all but people are almost evenly split regarding whether this space should be available to everybody all of the time or only when circumstances require it.

Were you surprised by the results of this poll? Is there another scenario that was not addressed in the poll choices?

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