Open plan ‘can distress employees’

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Employers forcing workers into open plan environments may be exposing them to additional stress, according to architect and access consultant Steve Maslin.

Speaking at the Working Trends conference in London this month, Maslin said workplace design can be stressful and alienating for members of the workforce who have sensitivities to aromas, sounds and light. “Sensations are food or nourishment for the nervous system,” he said, quoting occupational therapist Dr A. Jean Ayers. “They have implications for the built environment.”

Maslin said changes to the way spaces are used and shared can have an impact on individuals with sensory issues, for example moving from single offices to open plan. “There are certain individuals who start to exhibit certain reactions to these changes,” he said. “Not all of the workforce will be good at team working. If you put them in an open plan environment they could well start to exhibit stress.”

Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mallix/

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