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Be more active – work in an open plan office

General information September 13th 2018
Be more active - work in an open plan office

With office cake culture now officially branded a danger to health, we all need to get more active. So there's good news from the University of Arizona, who've discovered that workers in open-plan offices are more active and less stressed at work than their cubicle and office-bound colleagues.

Using chest sensors to track movements and heart rate over 3 days, researchers found that open office employees moved around 20% more than cubicle-based workers and 32% more than closed office employees. And those workers also reported 14% lower stress levels than their colleagues.

So could changing your office design be the solution to the ticking time bomb of our sedentary office work styles?

Give your office a nudge - Previous studies have already linked excessive sitting to a raft of health problems including type 2 diabetes and obesity. Changing your office design to include sit-stand desks can be a smart first step towards nudging your office into a more active lifestyle.

But is the open plan office the solution to a more healthy and active workplace? As this latest study shows, going open plan urges workers to get away from their desks to find some privacy to talk, collaborate and even practice mindfulness. Including breakout areas and team pods within existing workspaces can be a great way to encourage inclusion among workers.

Let it flow - In any office activity levels can also be affected by the location of meeting spaces, the accessibility of stairs and the general flow between desks. Clear pathways are also important both for office efficiency and to encourage movement. Designing the healthy office is all about balance and taking a holistic approach to our different needs within the open plan environment.

First, focus on individual and group ways of working - those that require individual space and those that benefit from collaboration and socialisation. Mental health and wellbeing are critical components of a full spectrum approach to what a healthy office means so add somewhere for your team members to relax and do their thing.

Create a balance - Using built structures within the open plan environment is a great way to create an office where we can all learn, focus, socialise, collaborate and recharge our batteries while promoting a greater level of movement and well-being. Feeling in control of the environment and the way we can move around within it promotes the kind of healthy activity that boosts office morale and keeps us productive and creative.

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