Open-Offices Are Making Us Sick And Less Productive


Google may have started the trend of open-offices, but everyone picked up on it pretty quickly, with 70 percent of offices employing low partitions or none at all. Open-offices are supposed to promote camaraderie, collaboration and teamwork, and to ostensibly increase worker morale and productivity. Except, well, it’s accomplishing a lot of other things instead.

Open-offices cause employees to get sick more often.
Studies have shown that employees in open-offices took more than twice as many sick days as employees in private offices. I believe this, considering I’ve caught half a dozen sinus infections and two cases of bronchitis in one year since working in an open-office instead of remotely, and up to this point I was a ferociously healthy person.

A lack of privacy can hinder productivity.
Walls create a sense of privacy, which studies have shown boosts worker productivity. When you take away those barriers, you also risk diminishing how much work employees get done.

Open-offices make us feel “helpless.”
Sounds dramatic, but it’s the study’s words, not mine: “Researchers found that the ability to control the environment had a significant effect on team cohesion and satisfaction. When workers couldn’t change the way that things looked, adjust the lighting and temperature, or choose how to conduct meetings, spirits plummeted.”

It’s just too damn loud.
I juggle two open-offices, one of which is great, the other of which is insane: I know all about the acne and academic issues of a colleague’s daughter, because apparently she calls said colleague at work 42 times a day. I’m not alone, either: BBC reports that 53 percent of open-office employees surveyed say other people disturb them when they try to focus.

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