15 Dec 2017

Your open-plan office is making you sick - research

3:51 pm on 15 December 2017

Open-plan office spaces are making workers more sick and affecting productivity, researchers say.

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Photo: 123RF

A report published today in the New Zealand Medical Journal found that compared to individual offices, shared or open-plan office space hurts staff health, wellbeing and productivity.

Canterbury University researchers have reviewed 15 overseas studies of workplace design for the report.

Team leader Ann Richardson said while workers were told that it improved communication and teamwork, that was not true.

She told Morning Report that as well as an increase in sickness absence, the research has also found less productivity, and a decline in job satisfaction.

"Because of the negative health impacts there will also be economic effects.

"Those factors should be taken into account."

Architects and designers were opting for open plan offices because they were cheaper, she said.

Flexibility and casual chats were the only upsides, the report said.