Open-plan offices make us less lazy

Study shows that staff working in cubicles or private offices are less physically active

Many of us spend a lot of time in the office – so it’s little surprise that the layout and design of that space can affect our wellbeing.  

A study published in online journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine by US researchers has discovered a correlation between an open-plan design, increased physical fitness and decreased stress levels. 

More than 200 government staff were recruited and placed in a range of working environments. Some had no partitions, while others had low or high partitions separating them from their colleagues. Participants wore heart sensors and physical activity monitors for three days and two nights. 

The results showed workers in open-plan offices clocked up more physical activity than workers who sat in single cubicles (who were 20 per cent behind) or in private offices (32 per cent less).

The report concluded that while no causal link could be established between open-plan offices and a positive effect on wellbeing, there nevertheless “may be an unrecognised positive factor in promoting physical activity levels at work.”

Researchers added: “The results of this study are an important step towards establishing best practices and guidelines for office design and operations.”