The open plan office is actually making you less stressed

The downsides of the open plan office are well documented. But new research found that there are some advantages to this open seating arrangement.

Photo: bradhoc via Flickr

The downsides of the open plan office are well documented. When you can see and hear your coworkers from every angle, you get the unwanted gift of loud and distracting neighbors that make you less productive and more aware that you are being watched at all times.

But new research found that there are some advantages to this open seating arrangement: you can get more fit and less stressed.

Open plan offices are forcing us to be more active

According to a study in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, researchers from the University of Arizona tracked 231 employees in federal office buildings through stress and activity sensors they wore throughout the day.

The workers in the open seating arrangements were 32% more active at work than those in private offices and 20% more active than employees in traditional, high-partition cubicles. The higher physical level activity, in turn, corresponded to lower stress levels.

The open place office means you must get up and walk around to find coworkers and a place to sit and work. Employees who were forced to hustle around the office more to get to places said they were 14% less stressed outside of the office than employees who were less active.

“This is the first study to show that open bench seating may be an unrecognized positive factor in promoting physical activity levels at work,” the study concluded.

Each office arrangements comes with its own pros and cons. You can choose to be more and active and less stressed or feel more watched and more distracted. Choose wisely, space planners.

Monica Torres|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at mtorres@theladders.com.