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Open-Plan Office, Enter at your own Risk!!

The open-plan office may be the modern way, but are they the best way? New research suggests that people who work in an open-plan office environment are more likely to get sick, be less productive and take more days off. Let’s find out why.

Research published in the Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health revealed that people who work in open plan offices take 62 per cent more sick days than those who work in their own, enclosed and personal space. The researchers believe that this is due to germs being spread more easily in an open environment. Quartz reports that it could also be attributed to open plan offices being a more stressful place to work, and with stress comes the risk of being unwilling to come to work and being unwell.

Another study by researchers at Virginia State University and North Carolina State University, in the U.S., revealed that people who work in an open-plan office are less productive. The research showed that these employees lack motivation, have lower job satisfaction and feel they lack privacy. Researchers believe that they are less productive as they are disturbed by the sound of other people’s conversations. A study by Hong Kong Polytechnic University support this stance. They questioned 259 office workers about which aspects of office life have the biggest impact on their productivity. It was also found that noise and temperature were the most influential factors with conversations and ringing phones being the most off-putting noises.

Crumbs that accumulate on your desk and keyboard provide a perfect environment for bacteria and fungi to thrive, says Dr Ron Cutler, a micro- biologist at Queen Mary University of London. The typical temperature of an office is around 20C, the point at which staphylococcus (a form of bacteria) can breed, causing diarrhoea and vomiting. Leaving your sandwich on your desk all morning is not a good idea! ‘Meat or chicken in temperatures of more than 4c will start to see salmonella growing after two or three hours,’ says Dr Peter Wilson, a microbiologist at University College London Hospitals. The more people who share office equipment or desks, the greater the risk of catching a bug, he explained. If that wasn’t bad enough, ‘faecal contamination has been found in the office environment and on phones, so the more people use certain equipment, the more germs will be on it,’ says Dr Cutler. So, washing your hands thoroughly before eating is very important. Finally, scientists at the University of Missouri claim that sitting at a desk for hours on end increases chances of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and kidney disease. They claim sitting down for an extended time has the same effect on health as smoking or over-exposure to the sun.

With all this in play, perhaps an open-plan office is not the best working environment, even if it is the current trend being followed! With our glass partitioning systems you can have the feel of open plan with the added privacy of traditional office – get in touch to find out how Space Partitioning Limited can help you make the most of your workplace.

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