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Preserving Privacy in Open Offices: A Modern Workplace Essential

Image: trendhunter In the evolving landscape of modern workplaces, open offices have become increasingly popular. Their relaxed, collaborative and dynamic atmosphere are automatically more inviting to those who dislike the restrictions of the traditional office —  an important consideration when attempting to lure people back in after years of remote working.  However, as the trend toward open floor plans continues, it’s important to address the privacy concerns that can arise from working in shared spaces. Privacy is a fundamental human right that must be safeguarded, even in the most progressive and contemporary of workplaces.  Why Privacy Matters 1. Individual Focus and Concentration:  Open offices are designed to encourage collaboration and communication, but they often lack the privacy necessary for employees to focus on individual tasks. Constant distractions, noise, and visual interruptions can significantly hamper productivity. Having privacy allows employees to concentrate on their work without being constantly disrupted, leading to higher efficiency and better overall performance. This is particularly important if you have neurodivergent team members who need a quiet and calm place away from distractions.  2. Confidentiality and Sensitive Discussions:  Most businesses have to deal with sensitive and confidential information from time to time, but this is particularly relevant in the legal, medical, or financial sectors. In an open office environment it’s challenging to maintain confidentiality during sensitive conversations or 1:1s without the fear of eavesdropping or putting the company and its clients at risk.   3. Personal Well-being:  Privacy in the workplace is closely linked to employees’ mental and emotional well-being. Constant visibility and the feeling of being watched can lead to stress and anxiety, negatively impacting employees’ overall happiness and job satisfaction. Providing private spaces within an open office setting allows employees to take short breaks, recharge, and manage their stress levels effectively. 4. Creativity and Innovation:  While collaboration is essential, individual creativity often needs a certain amount of solitude. Private spaces enable employees to brainstorm, think critically, and innovate without external disturbances. So, encouraging a balance between collaborative areas and private spaces fosters a creative environment where both teamwork and individual brilliance can thrive. 5. Respect for Diversity: Every individual has their own unique work habits and preferences. Some people thrive in open, bustling environments, while others require quiet and seclusion to perform their best. Respecting these differences and providing options for privacy ensures that the workplace is inclusive and respectful of everyone.  In the pursuit of fostering collaboration and communication, it‘s vital that organisations of all kinds recognise the importance of privacy — not just because of GDPR requirements, but because it promotes a happier, more inclusive workplace. By acknowledging the diverse needs of employees and providing private spaces where necessary, businesses can create a harmonious balance between collaboration and individual focus. Preserving privacy in open offices is not just a matter of comfort; it is a fundamental aspect of creating a supportive, productive, and respectful workplace environment for all.  Talk to our team of workspace design experts about how we can help you create a collaborative workplace where ideas can be shared, imagination can be sparked and privacy is respected.

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The TikTok trends your business need to understand

In 2023, the number of smartphone users has risen to a huge 6.92 Billion, which means over 86% of the global population now owns a smartphone. And as if that wasn’t enough of a shock, the average person spends 3 hours and 15 minutes solid on their phones every single day, with 1 in 5 of us racking up almost 5 hours glued to our screens. With so much of our lives revolving around social media, it’s important to think about how this translates to the workplace.  image: Sky News Young employees in particular are turning to places like TikTok as an outlet for expressing their needs and frustrations about their jobs. A lot of the trends that have now become a familiar part of workplace parlance started out on TikTok, like “quiet quitting”, “career cushioning” and “rage applying”. So, if you want to create a workplace that people want to be a part of, it’s worth keeping an eye on TikTok and finding out if there’s anything you might want to change.  Career cushioning It never hurts to have the occasional look around to see what other opportunities we might be missing out on, but Career Cushioning takes things to another level. 2023’s buzziest work trend is all about people being so proactive about their career prospects that they’re listed as “open for work” on LinkedIn (this will be hidden from their current employer, of course) and regularly taking calls from recruitment consultants. While this may be seen as a bit sneaky and underhanded to some, it’s actively encouraged on some social media platforms, particularly when people feel stuck in their roles or unhappy with their working environments.  Rage applying  People of all ages were affected by the pandemic, but it’s arguably the younger members of the workforce who were hit the hardest. Many began their careers when the “new normal” was in full swing, which means they missed out on the camaraderie and teamwork that older employees tend to take for granted.  Starting a new job in almost total isolation means many will not have cultivated the people skills needed to be part of a successful team, and being apart from colleagues has made it harder to build the kind of relationships that make an office feel like a family. So, when things go wrong, it’s less likely that disgruntled employees will want to fight for their jobs and more likely they’ll want to move onto something else as quickly as possible.  More significantly, the current economic climate is putting employees under huge financial pressure. The cost of groceries is continuing to rocket, bills are rapidly increasing and landlords are putting rents up, which means wages are not going as far as they used to. Like road rage and other situations when human emotions take over, rage quitting is usually a result of people feeling overwhelmed, annoyed and unable to cope. Just one thing going wrong at work can be enough to tip an already stressed team member over the edge, causing them to rage quit in favour of something else with a higher salary.  Quiet quitting The term quiet quitting, which went viral on TikTok in 2022, encourages employees to do the bare minimum at work, simply going through the motions and doing just enough to keep their jobs, but refusing to take initiative or do anything that involves extra effort. This can be challenging to deal with, because unlike disciplinary issues which tend to be cut and dried, it’s become much harder for managers to deal with situations where they think someone isn’t pulling their weight. On the other hand, quiet quitting presents a bit of respite for workers who feel overworked and unappreciated, by putting their own health and peace first and refusing to become stressed by demands that are outside of their job descriptions.  Quiet firing On the flip side, there’s quiet firing, where people are being subtly encouraged to quit their jobs. This might be by managers giving them projects that are outside of their remit or comfort zones, reducing their working hours or taking away their opportunities to move forward in their careers.  This isn’t something employees should be proud of and is usually a sign of a toxic working environment and poor leadership, but it’s sadly becoming increasingly common. How to respond to TikTok workplace trends So what can managers do in response to workplace trends like quiet quitting, rage applying and career cushioning, and stop them becoming a problem in their own companies? You can start by creating a workplace culture where everyone feels valued, understood and is paid at least the going rate for their skills and experience. Provide good opportunities for career progression, create a working environment that people want to be a part of and offer flexible working, where people can work from home some days of the week. Current research suggests that a huge 83% of people now expect at least some element of hybrid working, particularly millennials and Gen Z applicants.  The second most important thing you can do is manage expectations. Be clear about job roles and responsibilities, and if you want people to take on extra projects, work occasional overtime or do volunteering outside of work, make sure that’s written in the contract. Transparency is key to success and will save a lot of unnecessary hassle and unpleasantness further down the line.  Trends come and go, and all smart business leaders will know that sacrificing your long standing company values in response to a few 30 second videos is a terrible idea. But having an awareness of common bugbears and the kind of problems that might cause a valued team member to want to move on can go a long way towards creating a happy, healthy working environment full of loyal employees.  To find out more about how to create a happier, more productive workplace culture, get in touch. 

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Four ways Microsoft Teams Rooms Can Enhance Collaboration

When Microsoft Teams was first introduced in late 2016, nobody could have predicted how important it would become. The  “new chat-based workspace in Office 365” promised to bring people together and help them collaborate online, in a bid to help more companies consider remote working and create a greener, more productive business landscape.   Fast forward just six years, and the post-pandemic working world is very different. Now, 73% of people expect to be able to work from home and/or other places outside of the office, and 80% of companies are considering remote work at least some of the time. Hybrid working is here to stay, and as attitudes have changed, so has technology. Now companies of all sizes must embrace this new way of working and bridge the gaps between remote, hybrid and on-site working. Microsoft Teams Rooms was launched in 2019 to take the online meeting experience one step further and make it more authentic and enjoyable. Here are four ways MTR is enhancing collaboration and creating better meeting experiences, whether participants are working in the office or anywhere else in the world.  It fosters inclusivity We’ve come a long way from early video meetings, when remote workers were at a clear disadvantage to their office-based colleagues and often felt excluded from the full meeting experience. Thanks to technology like Microsoft Teams Rooms, everyone gets the same experience no matter where they are. Intelligent cameras can zoom in on whoever’s talking, and inclusive meeting layouts like Front Row create an immersive experience where everyone can be seen at once.  It’s flexible Pretty much any space with an internet connection can be turned into a Teams Room. Gone are the days when conferences would be restricted to rows of people talking to each other across a long table and craning their necks to look at tv screens. Now everyone has a shared view, in a space that works for them.  It works on multiple devices A Microsoft Teams Room is a dedicated piece of hardware that’s managed by a compatible central device and installed in a meeting space. Microsoft Teams Rooms can be accessed on a vast range of devices, including mobile phones. This means team members can jump on a call to share ideas and discuss issues wherever they are, whether that means commuting, working from home, or lying on the beach.  It provides powerful analytics Successful collaboration is all about understanding each other, and MTR can help with this too. Admins can gain powerful information like how many participants joined the meeting, how many different devices were used and identify when any go offline. Information is also available on the overall health of each MTR, including connection strength and device faults. Thinking about setting up your own Microsoft Teams Room but not sure where to start? At Workspace Audio Visual we specialise in Microsoft Teams Rooms and we’re renowned for our quality, flexibility and speedy installations. Contact our team today for a tailored, no obligation quote.

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