5 minute Read. The backlash against the dreaded open office plan has been brewing for many years. The study found that email use increased by 67%. It’s something many of us open office denizens intuitively know: Why would you interrupt someone who’s intently working with a question or a spontaneous observation when you can just email her-especially if she has her headphones in, a now universal sign that people don’t want to be disturbed? One woman who wrote to us said that her open office plan left her without a place to hide when a coworker was sexually harassing her. Research has indicated that open offices don’t just impact people’s productivity and feelings of safety when they’re in the office. A 2014 study analyzed sick leave rates in 1,852 Swedish companies, some of which were open plan, and found that there was “Significant excess risk” of employees taking sick leave in open plan offices. The study used stress and activity wearables to measure 231 employees over the course of several days, with surprising results: Employees in open plans got 40% more physical activity and had 9% less stress inside the office and 14% less stress outside the office compared to people in private offices and cubicles. Either way, given that open offices are much cheaper for employers to build and operate, there’s no doubt that open plan offices are here to stay.
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