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Open-Plan Offices Are Terrible for Your Health

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A well-designed office is a happy office. As facilities managers strive to save space and cash, they’re reshuffling desks and fiddling with temperature gauges. All of which has an impact on workers’ performance. Open-plan offices may make some kinds of collaboration easier, but are they more conducive to productivity? What’s the most irritating workplace distraction? And are those state-of-the-art workstations actually more comfortable? Here’s the Quartz complete guide to open-plan offices:

Nearly three quarters of Americans work in open-plan offices

According to the International Management Facility Association, 70% of American employees work in open-plan offices.

The world’s largest open-plan office

Mark Zuckerberg hired Frank Gehry to design Facebook’s office expansion in Menlo Park in California. Once completed—its planning application has been approved and work is set to start imminently—the social network’s new digs will be the world’s largest open-plan office.

Workers in open-plan offices get sick more often

Workers who share an office take more sick days than those who work in their own closed spaces. A study in the Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health found that open office setups reported 62% more sick days on average than one-occupant layouts. It was the first national population study conducted in Denmark to find such a linkage. One suggested explanation, unsurprisingly, was that viruses and bacteria spread more easily in open offices. Another was that open offices are more stressful to work in because of the lack of privacy, and that the stress makes sickness more likely.

Image via Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock.com

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