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How Open Plan Offices Work for Individuals

By Sandy Schroeder

If you have worked for a while, you may have had some great spots or views. A favorite of mine had a huge window framing leafy green trees, but what about right now?

Are you working in an open plan office? According to researchers, 70 percent of U.S. offices now have low or no partitions. If your company has them, you may love or hate them.

New research from the University of Arizona found open plan workers are:

  • More physically active
  • Less physically stressed
  • Less emotionally stressed

Other research points to open plan negatives.

  • Noise
  • Lack of privacy
  • Crowding
  • Lowered productivity
  • Compromised ability to concentrate

New research from Harvard Business Review found workers in open plan offices spend 73 percent less time in face-to-face interactions. Email and messaging increased by 67 percent.

What Influences Reactions

The type of work that you do and personal preferences may have a lot to do with your reaction. If you need quiet time to organize your thoughts, like to have a small array of personal treasures around you, and see your work space as a home-away-from-home, the open plan can be a challenge.

Interesting Things that Can Happen

I know a dynamic design team who worked with this open space trend as it developed. They were housing a group of high level designers in a quasi open plan arrangement. They used banks of waist-high greenery to soften areas and provided inviting rest areas filled with decorator touches and gourmet foods. 

What to Do If You Need Changes

Talk to your boss about possible new polices or options beyond headphones. Invite suggestions from everyone around you and get creative about things you have seen work that make the open plan more comforrtable.

  • Conduct speakerphone calls in conference rooms
  • Skip eating food at desks to avoid random odors
  • Provide privacy spots for personal calls
  • Allow rotating work hours to provide quiet time when needed
  • Provide games, hats, fun ways to interact

Put the Lid on Stress

Whatever you do, make the effort to find a way to feel relaxed, productive and happy in your workspace. Your health demands it. Ongoing stress is a major contributor to health issues in our society. Finding ways to keep life stress-free could make the difference as the years move ahead. 

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Seal Beach, Calif.

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