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Are open plan offices the key to a fitter workforce?

As part of our staff wellbeing strategy, we’ve been looking at health in the workplace and how the simplest changes can make a surprising difference.

Most of us are familiar with step challenges: tackling the office stairs instead of the lift, or walking the ‘long way’ from car to house to reach the magical 10,000 steps a day. But even if you are a fitness tracker refuser, your office layout may make a surprising contribution to your health.

A study of 230 US government employees revealed that workers who sit in open plan offices are 20% more physically active than their colleagues who work in cubicles with walls, and 32% more active than those who are holed up in private offices.

There are many reasons to move around the office: team members are encouraged to go and talk to their colleagues rather than phoning or emailing, but they also have to move to separate spaces for private phone calls and discussions that can’t take place in the open plan workspace.

The US study revealed an even more surprising result: after three days of wearing heart sensors and answering regular questions on their smartphones, open plan office workers were found to be 14% less stressed than their more sedentary colleagues.

We can’t say whether this is a side effect of a more active lifestyle or a sign that the directors in their offices really are working harder than the rest of the staff, but we’re always looking for ways to help all members of our team deal with stress.

Director Neil Jones commented:

“Like all employers, we want our workforce to be fit and happy. We encourage cycling to work, host charity events and have a regular social calendar to create a culture of inclusivity at Bennett Verby. Whether it’s down to seating arrangements or simple luck, we are proud that our staff get along so well.”

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