Stress Stalks the Workplace
People started talking about ‘sick building syndrome’.
That is something that has been ‘officially’ noticed about open-plan work places. According to the Health and Safety Executive, open-plan offices with more than ten work stations have been cited as a possible risk factor in sick building syndrome. People tend to experience an undefined sense of ‘not being well’. An obvious explanation is stress.
As early as November 2004, the UK Association of University Teachers, now the UCU, was raising concerns in a document presented to the management of the University of Sussex. The document notes "noise distraction" and a "lack of privacy", and warns:
"The argument that open-plan offices enable easier intellectual interaction between colleagues is exploded by the protocol of having to keep silent so as not to disturb colleagues." (Times Higher Educational Supplement)
So, my colleagues who complained about feeling ‘out of sorts’ were in good company. There is a problem. Open plan working is stressful.
Here are some survival strategies.