Workers in open offices healthier, less stressed than those in cubicles, study says

Do you work in a cubicle or an open space? One may be better for your health than the other, according to a new report.

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Researchers from the University of Arizona recently conducted a study, published in the Occupational and Environmental Medicine journal, to explore how office seating arrangements can impact overall health.

To do so, they examined 231 people who worked in federal office buildings with three different workstations: open offices, cubicles and private offices. The participants wore stress and activity sensors around the clock for three workdays and two nights.

"The intent was to evaluate the workers' activity and stress levels both inside and outside of the office environments," the authors wrote in a statement.

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After analyzing the results, they found employees in open bench seating arrangements were 32 percent more physically active than those in private offices and 20 percent more active than those in cubicles.

They also discovered that those who were more physically active had 14 percent less physiological stress outside of the office, compared to those who were more inactive.

“This research highlights how office design, driven by office workstation type, could be an important health-promoting factor,” study co-author Esther Sternberg said.

The team noted office workers are especially at high risk for low levels of activity, which can result in poor health outcomes. They hope to encourage employees to wear sensors that monitor activity and stress levels.

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“Objective measurements using wearable sensors can inform policies and practices that affect the health and well-being of hundreds of millions of office workers worldwide,” lead author Casey Lindberg added.

Want to learn more about their results? Take a look here.

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