Open-plan Offices Are Bad For People’s Health

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Photo: victoriapeckham


Photo: victoriapeckham

Australian site news.com.au reports on research findings that working in an open-plan office is detrimental to people’s health.

A group of Australian scientists reviewed a global pool of research and concluded that the switch to an open-plan office design has led to lower productivity and higher worker stress. The study was published in the Asia-Pacific Journal of Health Management.

News.com.au spoke to researcher Dr Vinesh Oommen from the Queensland University of Technology’s Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation. He found the evidence to be absolutely shocking.

“In 90 per cent of the research, the outcome of working in an open-plan office was seen as negative, with open-plan offices causing high levels of stress, conflict, high blood pressure, and a high staff turnover”, Dr Oommen said.

“The high level of noise causes employees to lose concentration, leading to low productivity, there are privacy issues because everyone can see what you are doing on the computer or hear what you are saying on the phone, and there is a feeling of insecurity.”

While there are also deemed to be various advantages with open-plan offices in terms of energy, interaction etc, Elevating Sound has indeed experienced the downside of it. Research findings as the ones in this article uncover a need for employers to reimagine how to plan their office space.

One way could be to create a few different, smaller open-plan ‘islands’ instead of really large spaces. And there are many interior architecture techniques and materials to leverage in order to lower the noise level and achieve a smooth sound experience that doesn’t cause as much stress.

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