A very interesting article in The Mercury about Office Frustration inspired me to do some research which I found far too interesting not to share.
Dr Vinesh Oommen of the Queensland University of Technology conducted a study on the effects of open-plan offices on workers’ mental and physical health in Australia.
According to Terry Smyth, Oommen’s review of all literature on the subject found that open-plan offices, which put multiple workers together in the same space, caused high levels of stress and staff turnover, increased workplace conflicts and feelings of insecurity from lack of privacy, caused loss of concentration due to excessive noise, and increased the risk of high blood pressure and infectious diseases.
Dr Oommen writes, “All the studies we reviewed had the same conclusion – that the open-plan work environment is one of the worst environments in which you can put an employee.”
“The only advantages of working in such an environment is that you can give people the opportunity to communicate better. It can be a much friendlier environment.”
However, the cons far outweigh the pros, according to the study which says that workers who move from a private workspace to an open-plan office often report difficulty concentrating because of increased interruptions, diversions and noise from photocopiers, phone conversations, air-conditioning, lift doors, employee chat and people moving around.
Oommen concluded that traditional enclosed offices promoted a healthier, happier, and thus more productive workforce, and advised employers to consider changing back.
This really strikes a chord with me as a result of past experiences, so with this in mind I can’t help but feel fortunate not to be a battery hen.
By Brad Porter