Home » 3 Ways Open-Plan Offices Are Damaging Your Health

3 Ways Open-Plan Offices Are Damaging Your Health

by janeausten
Commercial Cleaning Services

In principle, open-plan offices seem like a terrific idea. Colleagues can collaborate easily, communicate better and most importantly, the setup saves money for corporations. In reality, studies have shown that open-plan offices are not only detrimental to the performance and productivity of your employees but may also be damaging their health. While hiring commercial cleaning services may lower the risks of your employees spreading illnesses significantly, the truth is that open-plan office spaces damage their health in more ways than one. Here’s how:

The Spread of Illnesses

Of course, first and foremost, we must mention that open-plan offices, where people are working in close quarters with each other, offer the perfect conditions for bacteria, viruses and germs to spread. A person coughing or sneezing may propel the germs to a wider range of people when sharing one communal space than someone working in a private office. If the person coughing or sneezing is infected with the flu, stomach bug or other airborne illness, he might infect everyone in his vicinity.

According to this study from Denmark and Sweden,

It is not surprising that employees working in open offices have been known to take more sick leave on average than those in private, enclosed offices. Open-plan offices naturally increase employee contact, allowing germs to spread more easily. Employees with this office plan may also report having more headaches and respiratory problems because of weakened immune systems.

It is also suspected that employees working in “hot desk” arrangements may feel less responsibility towards keeping their desks clean as there is little to no sense of ownership in such situations. This, again, increases the number of germs and bacteria circulating the office.

Regular office cleaning may reduce these risks when high-touchpoint areas are thoroughly cleaned, sanitised, and air purifiers are introduced. Additionally, you may want to reinforce good hygiene habits in employees by putting signs and banners reminding them to cover their mouths when they cough or sneeze and wash or sanitise their hands afterwards.

A Stressful Situation

Even the most extroverted of humans have a social battery that can run out anytime. While it is true that humans are social creatures, when it comes to working, 95% of people surveyed in research from Ipsos and the Workspace Futures Team of Steel case said that working privately was of utmost importance to them.

31% of people said they had to leave the office premises to get things done because the surroundings were too loud and distracting to focus.

Even extroverts report that working in open-plan offices makes it difficult for them to focus and get work done when there is so much happening around them that they don’t want to miss out on.

Wasn’t the entire purpose of introducing open-plan offices to improve communication and collaboration?

Additionally, constantly interacting with people without being able to take a breather or get away just to have a moment to yourself can negatively impact an employee’s mental health. Add to the mix a toxic work environment, a gaslighting colleague or just the general chatter of people moving around, and you have yourself a highly stressful situation that is guaranteed to lead an employee to failure.

Even more alarmingly, studies have shown that the more anxious a person is while working, the more their posture suffers. This can lead to musculoskeletal disorders down the line. This constant anxiety of being in the direct line of sight of their boss may even prompt workers to work longer hours and negatively affect their work-life balance, creating a vicious cycle.

The Financial Burden

Open-plan offices were originally popularised to cut costs by eliminating the need for individual offices for each employee. However, when your employees are unable to focus, are constantly being distracted from their work and taking more sick days off due to mental stress or physical illness, you’re likely to lose more money than you save in the long run.

If you recognise the burden your open-plan office puts on your employees but don’t currently have the resources to invest in a complete remodel to a cellular or closed office, investing in professional commercial cleaning services can make a significant difference in keeping illnesses from spreading between your employees.

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