Open office plans are bad for people’s health, an Australian study has found

Open office plans are bad for people’s health, an Australian study has found


A review by Australian scientists into a global pool of research on the effect of modern office design found the switch to open-plan has led to lower productivity and higher worker stress, the Australian Associated Press (AAP) reported.

The evidence we found was absolutely shocking,'' Dr Vinesh Oommen from the Queensland University of Technology's Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation told AAP.

In 90% 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,” he 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.''

According to Dr Oommen the chances of workplace conflict also increased due to sitting so close to someone that each time their phone rings you can get irritated''.

I think most of us, including myself, can relate to that,'' he said.

The research found working in an open plan office could contribute to higher blood pressure and increased the risk of illnesses like the influenza virus.

Based on these findings, I think employers around the country need to rethink the open-plan environment in their offices,'' Dr Oommen said.

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, and using open-plan designs can save 20% on construction.''

The study was published in the Asia-Pacific Journal of Health Management.

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