There’s mounting evidence that open plan office layouts can create significant problems for workers. But you need to read between the lines in some of these studies. Originally, the term “open plan” was used for all office designs that used cubicles instead of private offices with “real” walls. Today, many people are using the term open plan to mean benching or other workstation setups that have low dividers or no panels at all. They use the term “closed plan” both for actual cubicles and for architectural walls that create separate workspaces for individuals. The difference becomes plain in this Australian study about the health effects of “open plan” offices.
The research compiled globally points to higher stress levels, elevated blood pressure, and more conflict in office environments where walls are lacking. The doctor interviewed regarding the study put the blame on the lack of proper physical barriers/boundaries: “The high level of noise causes employees to lose concentration, leading to low productivity, there are privacy issues because everyone can see what you are doing on the computer or hear what you are saying on the phone, and there is a feeling of insecurity.”
What’s a Business to Do?
Of course, with the significant cost-savings of workstations over private offices, most companies are not going back to the old way of doing things. There’s just too much to be gained by reducing the average office’s real estate footprint. This means employers need a way forward that addresses the problems of:
- High noise level causing distraction and lowering productivity
- Lack of visual and audible privacy making workers feel stressed
Obviously, these problems are going to be much more significant in offices that have little or no panel privacy. Fortunately, it’s now simple to make cubicle walls taller and increase their noise blocking ability. Our panel extenders can be attached in minutes using just an allen wrench (which is included in your order). This means there’s little or no disruption or downtime for your employees.