Open-plan offices = stress, flu and high blood pressure

Beware of the open-plan office – with increased risk of flu, stress and high blood pressure

Do you work in an open-plan office? Well according to experts, the modern working environment is making us ‘shockingly’ sick.

Academics studying the effects of an office where all employees sit metres apart from one another found that the noise, overcrowding and invasion of privacy can not only lead to exhaustion and flu symptoms, but also raise workers’ blood pressure and cause stress.

According to an analysis by Dr Vinesh Oommen, a public health expert in Brisbane, of previous research, battling away at our jobs while noise levels rise around us is seriously damaging our health.

He said: ‘The evidence we found was absolutely shocking. In 90% of research, the outcome of working in an open-plan office was seen as negative. Open-plan offices caused high levels of stress, conflict, high blood pressure and a high staff turnover.

‘Everyone can see what you are doing on the computer and hear what you are saying on the phone, and there is a feeling of insecurity.’

He added: ‘There is also a higher chance of workplace conflicts – sitting so close to someone each time their phone rings, you can get irritated. Most of us can relate to that.’

The open-plan workplace is a great money-saver for employees, however, and office managers believe the open environment encourages ‘interaction’ to get the creative juices flowing, so said one study.

Dr Oommen highlighted that the open-plan set-up cannot work for everyone and bosses need to recognise that.

‘The research found that the traditional design was better – small, private, closed offices.

‘The problem is that employers are always looking for ways to cut costs.

‘But having an office environment that promotes health and high productivity would be more beneficial to employers in the long run.’

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