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Open plan offices can be bad for your health

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In recent years, the open-plan office has become a popular choice for employers looking to promote collaboration and increase productivity. However, new research suggests that these types of workplaces may be bad for our health. A study published in the journal PLOS One found that employees in open-plan offices took an average of 62% more sick days than those in private offices. The study authors suggest that the increased sick days are likely due to the spread of infections in open-plan offices.

The study also found that employees in open-plan offices reported higher levels of stress and dissatisfaction with their work environment. If you work in an open-plan office, there are some things you can do to improve your health and well-being. For example, try to take breaks away from your desk to get some fresh air and exercise. You can also try to create a barrier between you and your co-workers by using noise-cancelling headphones or working in a separate space if possible.

The history of the open-plan office

The open-plan office is a relatively new concept that gained popularity in the second half of the 20th century. The idea behind an open-plan office is to create a more collaborative and productive work environment by removing barriers between employees.

While the open-plan office can have benefits, there are also some drawbacks. One of the main problems with open-plan offices is that they can be noisy and distracting. This can lead to employees feeling stressed and less productive. Additionally, open-plan offices can make it difficult for employees to focus on their work and take breaks when they need to.

Another issue with open-plan offices is that they can foster a competitive environment. In an open-plan office, it can be easy for employees to feel like they are being constantly monitored by their colleagues and bosses. This can lead to increased stress levels and a feeling of being constantly under pressure.

Finally, open-plan offices can be bad for your health. Studies have shown that sitting in an open-plan office can increase your risk of obesity, heart disease, and mental health problems.

The problems with open-plan offices

Open-plan offices have been found to have several negative impacts on workers’ health. One study found that workers in open-plan offices took more sick days than those in private offices. Other research has linked open-plan offices to increased stress and anxiety levels, and to a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

There are a few reasons why open-plan offices may be bad for workers’ health. First, they can be sources of noise pollution, which can lead to increased stress levels. Secondly, they can be breeding grounds for germs and bacteria, as there is often less opportunity for cleanliness and sanitation in an open office. Finally, open-plan offices can create a sense of isolation and loneliness, as workers may feel like they lack privacy and personal space.

The benefits of open-plan offices

Open-plan offices can have several benefits, including:

  1. Increased communication and collaboration: Open-plan offices can encourage greater communication and collaboration between employees, as there are no barriers to face-to-face interaction.
  2. Enhanced creativity: The lack of walls and enclosed spaces can lead to a more open and creative environment, which can be beneficial for businesses that require innovative thinking.
  3. Improved morale: Employees in open-plan offices often report higher levels of morale, as the working environment is typically more pleasant and relaxed.
  4. Greater flexibility: Open-plan offices tend to be more flexible in terms of layout and design, making it easier to accommodate changes in the workforce or workplace technology.
  5. Cost savings: Open-plan offices can be more cost-effective than traditional office space, as they often require less square footage per person.

How to make an open-plan office work for you

If you work in an open-plan office, there are a few things you can do to make it work better for you. First, try to find a space that is away from the busiest areas. This will help you avoid distractions and noise. Second, invest in a good pair of headphones or earplugs so you can focus on your work. Third, take breaks often to move around and get some fresh air. Finally, make sure to communicate with your co-workers so everyone is on the same page.

Employee Perceptions of Sick Days

Most employees perceive taking a sick day as an inconvenience to their team and themselves. For some, it may be seen as a lack of commitment to their job. As a result, many workers will try to “tough it out” even when they’re feeling under the weather.

This can have serious implications for both the individual and the company. On an individual level, coming into work sick can prolong the illness and make it worse. It can also put others at risk of getting sick if the illness is contagious.

From a business perspective, having employees come in sick can lead to decreased productivity and higher healthcare costs. One study found that absenteeism due to illness costs US businesses $225.8 billion every year.

Fortunately, there are things companies can do to help change employees’ perceptions about taking sick days. First, managers should set an example by taking a sick day when needed and not working through illnesses themselves. Second, companies should have clear policies in place about how and when employees can take time off for illness. Finally, employers should provide access to resources that can help employees manage their health so they’re less likely to get sick in the first place.

The Employer’s Role in Safeguarding Employee Health

Open-plan offices are a popular choice for employers looking to promote collaboration and communication among employees. However, there is growing evidence that these types of workplaces can be detrimental to employee health.

There are several potential health risks associated with open-plan offices, including increased exposure to noise, distractions and air pollution. Employees in open-plan offices also have a higher risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders due to the lack of privacy and personal space.

As an employer, it is important to be aware of the potential health risks associated with open-plan offices and take steps to mitigate them. Some simple measures that can be taken include installing sound-proofing materials, providing ergonomic furniture and ensuring that the office ventilation system is effective.

By taking these steps, employers can create a safer and more comfortable working environment for their employees which will lead to improved productivity and decreased absenteeism.

Ways to Combat Illness in the Workplace

There are several ways to combat illness in the workplace, including:

-Encouraging employees to get vaccinated against common illnesses such as the flu.

-Providing employees with information on how to prevent the spread of illness, such as Handwashing 101 posters or emails.

-Implementing policies that promote hygiene, such as mandating that employees stay home when they are sick.

-Encouraging employees to take breaks throughout the day to reduce stress levels and promote relaxation.

-Providing employees with access to healthy food and snacks

-Creating a relaxed and comfortable work environment where employees feel valued and supported.

Open office plans are as bad as you thought

Open offices are often lauded for their ability to promote collaboration and teamwork. However, there is a growing body of evidence that suggests that open office plans can be bad for your health.

A study published in the journal Epidemiology found that employees who work in open-plan offices are more likely to report sick days than those who work in private offices. The study’s authors suggest that this is because open-plan offices can increase stress levels and make it difficult to concentrate.

Another study, published in the journal PLOS One, found that employees who work in open-plan offices are more likely to experience high blood pressure and heart rate variability. The study’s authors suggest that this is because of the increased noise levels and lack of privacy in open-plan offices.

So, if you’re thinking about switching to an open-plan office, you may want to think again. The evidence suggests that open-plan offices can be bad for your health, both physical and mental.


There seems to be a lot of evidence stacked against open-plan offices. If you work in one or are considering working in one, it might be worth taking the time to assess how it is affecting your health. There are a few simple things you can do to mitigate the negative effects, like investing in some noise-cancelling headphones or getting up and moving around regularly. But at the end of the day, if your office is impacting your mental and physical health, it might be time to look for a new job.


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