Workspace satisfaction: The privacy-communication trade-off inopen-plan offices

Jungsoo Kim*, Richard de Dear

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

331 Citations (Scopus)


Open-plan office layout is commonly assumed to facilitate communication and interaction between co-workers, promoting workplace satisfaction and team-work effectiveness. On the other hand, open-plan layouts are widely acknowledged to be more disruptive due to uncontrollable noise and loss of privacy. Based on the occupant survey database from Center for the Built Environment (CBE), empirical analyses indicated that occupants assessed Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) issues in different ways depending on the spatial configuration (classified by the degree of enclosure) of their workspace. Enclosed private offices clearly outperformed open-plan layouts in most aspects of IEQ, particularly in acoustics, privacy and the proxemics issues. Benefits of enhanced 'ease of interaction' were smaller than the penalties of increased noise level and decreased privacy resulting from open-plan office configuration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-26
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Environmental Psychology
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013


  • Indoor environmental quality (IEQ)
  • Office layout
  • Open-plan
  • Post occupancy evaluation (POE)
  • Privacy
  • Satisfaction


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