1. Stress, long hours, and the sedentary nature of your modern office job are literally sucking the life out of you.

2. Your workplace environment may have an effect on your health and satisfaction at work.

Do you work  in an office with a noisy open floor plan? Or do you spend each day in a cubicle? Maybe you labor away in a private office? Your answer to these questions could influence your health. If you work in an office with an open plan, you have the benefit of chatting with your colleagues about new ideas without having to make a trip to a conference room. But you and your colleagues may also need to take more sick days.

According to a new study published in the Journal Ergonomics, working in an open floor plan and without individual workstations may negatively affect a worker's health. In their study on the effect of office type on sickness absence, Christina Bodin Danielsson (ResarchGate, 2015) and colleagues at Stockholm University evaluated data from 1,852 office workers over two years. The workers toiled in single-room offices; shared-room offices; small, medium-size, and large open-plan offices; flex-offices (with no individual work stations); and combined offices.  Employees who labored in offices with one of the three open floor plans called in sick more often. Women who spent their workdays in these environments were particularly likely to be absent for short sick periods. In flex-offices, or open-plan layouts without individual workstations but with some meeting rooms, male workers had higher rates of short sick leave times and individual sick days. Why all these sick days? People sharing workspace may have a higher infection rate risk. Exposure to noise and the loss of personal control may also be to blame.

Group dynamics also figure in the negative effects tied to traditional open-plan offices, particularly large open-plan offices. But there is some good news for employees who work close to each other: strong group identity and peer control is more likely to be fostered in a smaller group of people, according to the researchers.

In a separate study, published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, Jungsoo Kim and Richard de Dear (ScienceDirect, University of California at Berkeley's Center for Built Environment (CBE)) studied 42,764 respondents who worked in enclosed private, enclosed shared, and open-plan spaces. The researchers found that in general, people who toiled in enclosed private offices had the highest satisfaction level with their workspace environment.

When comparing people in private offices to those in open-plan spaces, the researchers found a huge discrepancy in their perception of privacy, acoustics, and proxemics. What bugged people in open plan office layouts most? You guessed it—they were distracted by noise and loss of privacy.                                                                             

While you might think that open-plan offices foster better communication between colleagues, the study indicated that people in private offices were the most satisfied about their interactions with others.  


COPYRIGHT: This article is property of We Speak Science, a nonprofit institution co-founded by Dr. Detina Zalli (Harvard University) and Dr. Argita Zalli (Imperial College London). The article is written by Dalina Perzefi( Bachelor of  Biological Science, Università Politecnica delle Marche).