comscore Are open-plan offices really the best? | Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Are open-plan offices really the best?


    Employees work in an open office space setting in Santa Fe, N.M., in May.

About 70 percent of U.S. offices are now set up with low or no partitions.

The good news is that open-plan workers are more physically active and consequently less physically and emotionally stressed than those in semi-private or private offices. That comes from a new study from researchers at the University of Arizona.

However, not everyone agrees.

There’s also research that says noise, lack of privacy and crowding cause stress and reduce productivity. And according to Harvard researchers, the open plan actually reduces face-to-face collaboration.

We bet reactions to open-plan offices depend on the work being done, the office setup and individual preferences.

If you’re irked by your open workspace, what can you do, besides closing off the outer world with headphones?

Talk to your boss about approaching the human resources department and discussing policies: Speakerphone calls have to be placed in a conference room; no one can wear perfume or aftershave; food isn’t eaten at desks (the smell of egg salad can be hard to take); personal calls can be made in established privacy zones.

And suggest a company-wide meeting to discuss these issues and find solutions. Plan on opening the lines of communication — your health, productivity and happiness deserve it.

Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D., is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. Email questions to

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