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Open-plan offices could improve health, reduce stress

23/08/2018

Open-plan offices could improve health, reduce stress

The sedentary lifestyles many office-based workers lead are often cited as having a negative impact on their health, but a new study suggests the type of office someone works in could make a difference.


That’s because the US study of 231 employees found that those who worked in open-plan offices were more active and less stressed than their peers in cubicles or private offices.


In fact, open-plan office workers clocked up 20% more physical activity than those in cubicles and 32% more than those who had their own office.  


But why? The researchers say it could be to do with open-plan office workers being more likely to get up and have a conversation with one of their colleagues if they can see them across the room, instead of using a telephone or email.


The extra physical activity was thought to be a factor linked to the lower stress levels, suggesting that open-plan offices afford more than just physical health benefits.


The University of Arizona study, published in Occupational & Environmental Medicine, is the first of its kind to actually monitor activity and stress levels using technology, instead of relying on individuals to fill out surveys.


Esther Sternberg, a professor at University of Arizona College of Medicine and study author, said: “We all know we should be increasing our activity but no matter how we try to encourage people to engage in healthy behaviour, it doesn't work for long.


“So changing office design to encourage healthy behaviour is a passive way of getting people to be more active.”

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