Beyond the Build

Construction Trends

Those Who Work in Glass Offices…

Might be over-exposed.

That’s what the Wall Street Journal, “Indecent Exposure: The Downsides of Working in a Glass Office” says, anyway. With all the talk about the benefits of open design, no one seemed to consider the pitfalls. Here are a few the WSJ identified:

  • Privacy on personal matters, where human resources or other private meetings are made public, just because they can be seen.
  • The “fish bowl”effect, where coworkers find themselves exposed or distracted by their ability to see others.
  • The “Bird”effect, where people don’t see glass and walk right into it.
  • The noise factor, because glass walls allow 50-100% more noise to pass through.

As I’ve mentioned, when it was time for us to build our own campus, we worked hard to create the perfect workspace. After consulting with a few members of our team, my original thoughts for an entirely open workspace were overruled.

We ended up with what I believe is the perfect mix of openness and privacy. Each office has two glass walls–one to the outside and one facing inside. The interior walls have solid doors that shut, although we leave them open most of the time. We’ve dedicated lots of space to common areas. For us, it works.

Obviously, people need to work on their own many times, but a little bit of help never hurts. The mostly-open environment has been a real plus. If I had it to do all over again I would build office exactly the same way.

Here are a few images of our place under construction:

Our conference room, a mix of glass and solid walls, under construction.

Solid doors are flanked by glass.

Offices–light and bright–on either side of the hall.

Decals on our windows deflect birds…and people.

All outside walls are lined in windows.




Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.