Diagnosis “Cubicle”: When does the work sick

Diagnosis “Cubicle”: When does the work sick


Open-plan offices make people ill, as the experts agree. They offer not only a paradise for bacteria and viruses, they mainly represent a psychological burden for the employees. Nevertheless, more and more companies rely on the open-plan offices, although there are so many viable alternatives.

Why ever a Cubicle?

The reasons why companies are increasingly implementing large offices, are different. On the one hand engages here the cost factor: The more people they can accommodate in one room, the more favorable. In addition, open-plan offices offer course not only disadvantages. Proponents see it

  • an opportunity for improved communication,
  • strengthening of teams and a “we-feeling”
  • shorter coordination channels,
  • increasing the creativity and
  • direct participation in the company’s activities.

But communication is not always good. On the contrary:

In Cubicle many employees feel under constant observation, the distraction of the colleagues is large, the productivity decreases and the permanent noise causes illness.

Everything just theory? No! Numerous studies have examined the hypothesis that open-plan offices make people sick, now scientifically proven.

Open-plan offices make you sick – physically and mentally

A Swedish study at the University of Stockholm examined specifically whether employees in offices more absenteeism than those in smaller, individual offices or in the home office . They came to shocking results: Of the 2,000 surveyed workers those included in Cubicle twice as many sick days as their counterparts.

This is the company in the long run to pay dearly. More expensive than the provision of small office or home office scheme. Many companies pay the bottom line in open-plan offices even on it, so the organizational psychologist Berthold Iserloh. The ” SBIB study – Swiss survey in office ” supports this theory. Accordingly suffer 38 percent of respondents to fatigue, 17 percent of insomnia, 16 percent on a “heaviness in the head,” 15 percent of burning eyes and 14 percent from headaches.

The incidence of these symptoms decreased simultaneously to the office size. Other symptoms that can be observed frequently with employees in an office cubicle, include

  • back pain
  • difficulty concentrating
  • Viral and bacterial infections
  • mental stress caused by noise and / or continuous monitoring

Open-plan offices make so actually sick. Firstly here viruses and bacteria spread simply faster than with a physical separation of the employee. On the other hand associated with the Cubicle psychological burden should not be underestimated.

The SBIB study identified mainly noise levels, bad air in the room as well as a false room temperature as confounders. In addition, 25 percent of respondents felt frequently disturbed in their work, especially through conversations with and between colleagues, the telephone conversations of other people in the room and simply through traffic.

The noise comes insidiously

When next you see a plane would start, you would certainly complain immediately. In an open plan office, it is of course not as loud. Yet here we often up to 70 decibels. In comparison, approximately the same value is a lawnmower.

Experts therefore designate the noise in an office cubicle as a “silent noise” . It does not damage the eardrum, but the psyche of the person concerned. But that does not happen suddenly, but slowly and is therefore often not consciously perceived. The Association of German factory and company doctors estimated the number of health hazard by the noise employees in German open-plan offices to around seven million. The dangers:

  • subliminal stress
  • lack of creativity
  • declining concentration
  • increasing susceptibility to errors
  • increased risk of heart attack
  • high blood pressure
  • digestive problems
  • sleep disorders
  • Burnout and similar stress-related mental illness

Dr. Meis, a Swiss physician and company physician, explains:

These mechanical noises, like the ringing of a telephone or the clatter of a keyboard, the brain can hide. but not the communication between two people, or language. By the call of a colleague or the conversation between two people listening in the concentration of drops automatically by up to ten percent. The attention and performance decline so involuntarily, without the / the victim could do something about it.

Everyone needs his privacy

The only way would be there often retreat – but that is not yet possible in the fewest offices. Sufferers can therefore not escape the harmful environment. Often they are also suffering from the lack of privacy in open-plan office.

They are constantly disturbed by colleagues and through traffic, everyone hears their calls with and they work virtually on display – six, eight or ten hours a day. This reduces directly the welfare of employees. Australian researchers found also that more and more employees are suffering in large offices with overstimulation, each person has a different threshold load.

Last is the place in the “chicken factory” many sufferers feel to be nothing special. As “just a number” will harm the self-esteem . The physicist Georg Brockt speaks from personal experience: In an open plan office it is virtually impossible to solve complex or scientific tasks. You know perhaps even:

Try to write a text, while two people talking next to you, or to solve a simple calculation, while someone random number different casts in the room or one loud.

The expert from the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health reckons: Halving the square means the doubling of the sound. The closer a Cubicle is therefore, the higher the burden on the staff.

decreases employee productivity

Said disturbances in the office cause employee productivity decreases inevitably. Researchers were able to observe in studies with cockroaches that these simple tasks coped better under observation, complex tasks but worse.

This thesis should be occupied in human studies. And indeed, the subjects took off their shoes under observation 30 percent faster. More advanced tasks, however, are dissolved under observation less and more slowly. Whether it is a real or imagined observation: The mere presence of other people in the room, so the feeling of being watched, reduces employee productivity and their error rate increases.

The Federal Institute for Occupational Safety calls for even concrete figures: The error rate increases in an open plan office 113 percent.

If the open-plan offices therefore be abolished?

Most productive a person actually works in an undisturbed environment, the best in the home office. But there are other ways to work modern and forward-looking to make. The Cubicle must not be banished entirely from the companies in this course.

Nevertheless, the employees must be given the opportunity of retreat spaces. At best, he can decide when he wants to work in what context. So it can be for creative work and brainstorm with colleagues looking for a place in the open-plan office and his designs then undisturbed work out in the double office rest room.

The possibilities of a modern and healthy public office structure is great – most companies is still missing it at only one error awareness and enough creativity. It could so sick and reduces the productivity of employees increased . And the better in a well-being and higher employee satisfaction.

So why, dear employers, build still so many large offices?

Cubicle: 10 Benefits

Cubicle: 10 Benefits

In an open plan office it is noisy, stuffy and you can not concentrate well. There is something on that. But large offices also have important advantages. The Job Market presents them.

What benefits a Cubicle provides:

  • The communication lines are short. Instead of calling, chatting or just planning a meeting, you can face-to-face talk, which is still the best form of communication.
  • in Cubicle learn the colleagues know a lot faster. Who is funny, who is a klutz, who has always good ideas? It is not only in a personal conversation firmly but also by listening if the colleagues entertained.
  • There are stolen less ideas, because everyone will notice who she has ruled on only.
  • Ideas can be taken up and developed by all. Maybe so unexpected talent disclosed.
  • the Cubicle has not only its own tasks in view, but learns who works what. So everyone can learn more about the processes within the entire company.
  • What do I do on the phone ? Where can I find it equal to the function in Excel? – In Cubicle one learns almost in passing on the skills of other employees.
  • The Cubicle guarantees transparency, who and who is diligent a quitter.
  • Less gossip, gossip. Derlei information will not be as in the “Whispers” in a whisper from office to office and distorts it.
  • Customers call by telephone, reach someone when the apparatus is temporarily unoccupied because the desk neighbor rangeht.
  • A Cubicle saves the company costs, because then one gets by with less space and the rent is less characterized.