On average, Australians spend 33 hours a week at work, equal to 20 per cent of our lives. Considering another 30 per cent of our lives are spent sleeping, that equates to a significant chunk of our waking hours spent driving our desks. So it makes sense that our friendly mates in lab coats have been busy, studying away, trying to identify the nuances of our work places that impact our health.
And while work often gets a bad wrap when it comes to your health, it’s rare that your company gets any credit in boosting your fitness. In fresh research this week from the University of Arizona, scientists have identified that your office space can actually improve your health, on one condition; your office has open plan seating.
According to the results, workers in open plan offices were 32 per cent more physically active than those in isolated offices, and 20 per cent more active than those in cubicles.
"This research highlights how office design, driven by office workstation type, could be an important health promoting factor," said Dr. Esther Sternberg, the senior author of the study.
The researchers identified the trends when analysing the activity and stress levels of 231 study participants over a 3 day trial period. The measurements, collected by activity sensors, were taken during the work day, and overnight, in order to provide comprehensive results.
But the benefits of open plan office-life go beyond the physical. According to Sternberg and her team, those working in open plan offices were also 14 per cent less stressed when they went home when compared to their cubicled colleagues.
The results hold huge significance for employers, especially in the midst of the ballooning corporate wellness push, allowing them to create workplaces that promote healthy, happy, and stress free employees.