Open-plan offices 'make you ill'

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image of businessman sneezing...

Working in an open-plan office could be making you ill, research has shown.

Scientists analysed data from nearly 2,000 staff working in seven types of office.


They found a "significant excess risk" of short spells of sick leave among those employed in open-plan offices, especially women.

"Flex-offices" - open-plan spaces with no individual work stations - were also associated with greater absenteeism through illness among men.

The Swedish researchers, led by Christina Danielsson from Stockholm University, wrote in the journal Ergonomics: "The cumulative evidence... indicates that traditional open-plan offices are less good for employee health."

The scientists highlighted open-plan environmental stresses, such as noise and lack of privacy, as well as the risk of infection.

Small and large open-plan offices had the greatest effect, roughly doubling the incidence of short spells of sick leaves.

Medium-sized open plan offices increased the risk of sick leave absence by about a fifth.