Open-plan offices – bad for health and productivity

Open-plan officeIt’s the bane of the modern work environment – the open-plan office. Rather than give everyone their own office, creating vast halls with everyone’s desks adjacent to each other has delivered businesses one clear benefit – the ability to pack more people into less space than every before.

And, it seems, our offices are also becoming a health hazard with workers needing to exercise for an hour each day to counteract the effects of sedentary jobs.

A study from 2013, published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, looked at over 42000 office workers and concluded that despite people being closer together with fewer physical barriers there was no evidence of increased staff interaction.

Now, research has shown that the modern office is a significant health hazard. Research published in the respected medical journal, The Lancet, has found we need to exercise for an hour each day to counteract the effects of sitting in the office.

The research analysed data from over 1 million people from 16 studies and found people who sat for eight hours a day but were physically active “had a much lower risk of death compared to people who sat for fewer hours a day, but were not physically active”.

Notwithstanding the clumsy language used in the press release that accompanies the research – we are all subject to a 100% risk of death unless we are immortal – the message is we need to  do more that the World Health Organisation, who recommend that adults should do at least 150 mins of physical activity per week. The study recommends 60-75 mins per day.

In other words, modern offices aren’t designed for productivity and probably aren’t doing our health any favours.

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