OPEN-plan offices are making people sick, with workers more likely to suffer stress, catch a cold and be less productive, Australian researchers have found.
A review of global studies into the impact of modern office design found the switch to open-plan spaces had been overwhelmingly negative, with 90 per cent reporting adverse health and psychological effects.
High levels of stress and conflict, elevated blood pressure, and rapid staff turnover were associated with open-plan environments, according to review author Vinesh Oommen.
"Employees face a multitude of problems such as the loss of privacy, loss of identity, low work productivity, various health issues, overstimulation and low job satisfaction when working in an open-plan work environment," Oommen wrote in the Asia-Pacific Journal of Health Management.
Workers were plagued by insecurity, he said, ever-conscious of their colleagues' ability to see what they were doing on the computer and eavesdrop on their phone calls.
High noise levels led to impaired concentration and low productivity, he said.
There was a higher incidence of workplace conflict, with people sitting so close to their neighbour that even a ringing phone could irritate.
Ease of germ transmission also meant illnesses such as influenza were more swiftly passed around.
"It is estimated that organisations can save up to 20 per cent in development costs when creating an open-plan work environment," Oommen wrote.
"(But) workplace design must go beyond cost-saving to cater for the multifaceted social and psychological needs of employees."
It's not open office spaces that make people more sick, it's stupid people that make people sick. If you're really sick STAY HOME. And if you are at work, keep quiet and don't go around gossiping and spreading germs!
And I would be stressed out too if some spy kept sneaking up behind me while I'm trying to blog at work!