For the past decade or so (to the chagrin of introverts everywhere), open plan offices have been all the rage in company workspaces, with supporters arguing that they promote communication, collaboration and a less stressful environment. Unfortunately, according to a recent study of 1,852 Swedish employees, all of that openness is a great way to get sick. From a prevention and risk mitigation standpoint, this is bad news, as sick employees put a big dent in productivity and efficiency rates, not to mention the overall happiness of employees.
Just why are open plan offices so bad for our health?
The jury is still out, but many hypotheses are circulating. For one, a lack of barriers may make it easier to spread germs. What’s more, if an open plan leads to greater communication, the frequency of exchange may cause an even quicker spread. Sick employees may be less willing to take days off when they know everyone will spot their absence, and more introverted employees may be vulnerable to illness, as open plan offices increase their levels of distraction and stress.
These are, however, only initial findings, and there may be many ways to turn the tide on this one, such as creating a wellness program that emphasizes rest above overwork. Still, we highly recommend reading the following article, Science Says Open Offices Might Make Us Sick, for a more in-depth look at this subject.
Do you enjoy open plan office spaces? Have you noticed any uptick in illness since your workspace switched to this model? Let us know in the blog comments below.