How Do Open Offices Affect Employee Health?
Is the location of your workspace affecting your health? I’m not talking about stress levels, but about the actual space you’re working in.
In the midst of the cold/flu season, you may be on high-alert for any contagious illnesses. We already know that viruses like the flu can spread with ease throughout an office and have a serious affect on productivity. And apparently if you work in an open office space, you may be even more worried about those health risks.
But how do open office spaces actually affect your health: are they good or bad for you?
Disadvantages of an Open Plan Office
A flu outbreak can cause serious problems for any office, from a drop in productivity to the costs of sick days. As far as physical health, the truth is that viruses do spread faster in open offices.
Studies have found that that those who work in open offices are more likely to take short term sick leave or a sick day. Those employees might be using 62% more of their sick days due to the environment. Employees with this office layout are also more prone to headaches and respiratory problems due to weakened immune systems.
Many common illnesses, such as the common cold, are spread through infected surfaces, infected mucous, and clouds of infected particles. In an open office space, all these things move around more quickly and frequently.
Of course it’s possible for illnesses to spread in any kind of office you’re working in, but an open office just makes it easier.
Advantages of an Open Plan Office
Studies have shown that people who work in open office spaces are less stressed. The workplace layout may help spread bacteria, but lower stress levels have a crucial impact on physical health and productivity.
The same employees will also have more physical activity in their workday. Employees working in an open plan office can experience 32% more physical activity throughout their day than those in closed offices.
Even though there are some negatives for working in an open office space in regards to your health, there are some ways to protect yourself.
Of course, you can always practice good hygiene with washing your hands, but to protect yourself from the flu each year, you should always get the influenza vaccine. The influenza vaccine is the most reliable way to lower your risk of getting the flu each season.
It’s important to get the vaccine every season because the vaccine is changed every year. The flu shot can be targeted toward the most prominent strains found in the previous flu season. An on-site flu clinic can greatly reduce the chances of an office-wide outbreak during the flu season.
Do you have any other questions about keeping your business flu free? Do you still need to set up an on-site flu clinic for this season? Passport Health can help. Give us a call at or fill out a contact form for more information.
Written for Passport Health by Kaitlyn Luckow. Kaitlyn is a freelance writer, photographer and English teacher in Milwaukee. She has a passion for capturing and writing other people’s stories. You can find her at sayhellostory.com.