While working in an office can mean a private corner suite with a door, most American workers are more familiar with working in cubicles and open-office desks. Such setups offer little privacy, which can be frustrating if you are easily distracted or have obnoxious desk neighbors. To bring a little privacy to your desk, you need to break up sight-lines and use small sound barriers to your neighbors without being obtrusive to others.

1. Construct Privacy Barriers

Use common houseplants to create privacy barriers, soften noises and block peering eyes from your desk or cubicle. Select plants that work for your desk configuration. If you have a short cubicle, tall plants like bamboo shoots or small evergreens will create visual barriers. Trailing plants like philodendron and ivy work better from higher spaces, which is ideal if you have open bookcases between your desk and your neighbors.

2. Break Up Sight Lines

Arrange any personal items you have at your desk to give visual and sound barriers from your neighbors. Arrange your nicknacks tastefully, breaking up the sight line to others without being obnoxious or intrusive.

3. Use Headphones and Earplugs

Other cubicle privacy ideas include using headphones or earplugs to give yourself greater privacy when you need to concentrate. Don't be afraid to politely offer your neighbor use of yours or a pair of their own if their noise is too much.

4. Use Mirrors for Privacy

Install a small mirror beside your computer if it does not face the opening of your cubicle or where visitors enter your workspace. While it does not provide privacy, it can protect your privacy if you know someone is coming so you do not say something you do not want others to hear.

5. Operate a Marker System

Of all the things to make your cubicle more private, using an "open/closed" for visiting system is perhaps the most enduring. Advertise when you are available to chat and when you are not with a sign or marker. It can be something as straightforward as a flip sign saying "in the office" on one side and "unavailable" on the other or as pithy or humorous as your office environment will allow. This protects your privacy and time from those who would intrude at will if you let them.

6. Be Savvy with Conversations

Keep personal emails and conversations off company computers and phones. It is important to understand your employer owns everything on the business computer you use, including any personal emails you send from it. If your company records calls, personal calls may be recorded, too. Protect your privacy at your desk by taking personal calls on your cellphone outside the office and emails via a home computer, smartphone or personal laptop.

Things You Will Need
  • Plants

  • Personal effects, such as picture frames, figurines and plaques

  • Headphones or earplugs

  • Small mirror

  • Adhesive

  • Availability sign


Remember that your desk makes as much of a statement about you as your behavior at meetings, your wardrobe and interaction with coworkers at the company holiday party.