Open plan office design: Winner or Loser?

Open-plan offices are becoming the latest style trend for Commercial office design, but new research suggests that they are not the best environment for a productive team.

People who work in large open plan offices are more likely to get sick, are less productive and take more days off.

Research published in the Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health revealed that people who work in open plan offices take 62 per cent more sick days than those who work in their own, enclosed space.

  • Open-plan office workers are exposed to more germs and are more stressed
  • People who have their own space take 62 per cent less sick days
  • They are less productive because they are distracted by other people talking
  • People over the age of 45 are the most distracted by office noises
  • Open plan workers are less motivated and have lower job satisfaction levels

Research published in the Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health revealed that people who work in open plan offices take 62 per cent more sick days than those who work in their own, enclosed space.

The study authors believe that this is because germs spread more easily in these large open environments.

The acoustics of an open plan office often mean it is a much noisier place to work which can effect productivity as employees find it hard to concentrate. This can lead to stress which in turn can lead to time off.

A study carried out by researchers at Virginia State University and North Carolina State University, in the U.S., revealed that people who work in open plan offices are less productive.

The study further discovered that noise and temperature are the most influential factors with conversations, ringing phones and machines being cited as the most irritating noises.

This study also revealed that people over the age of 45 are the most sensitive to disturbing noises – their productivity is affected the most by them.

Open plan offices are still very popular in design styles due to the flexibility and the wider commercial appeal this can offer.