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开放式办公室容易让人生病

更新时间:2014-3-12 10:43:53 来源:华尔街日报中文网 作者:佚名

Study: Open Offices Are Making Us All Sick
开放式办公室容易让人生病

Another reason not to like open-plan offices: they could be making people sick.

A recent study published in the journal Ergonomics found that workers who share open spaces with multiple colleagues are more likely to take short-term sick leaves than those who enjoy the privacy of their own office.

Researcher and architect Christina Bodin Danielsson and three colleagues at Stockholm University studied 1,852 employees working in seven different types of offices in Sweden. The layouts ranged from private offices to rooms housing two to three people to open-plan layouts with more than 24 people. They also looked at employees working in what they dub 'flex-offices,' where there are no assigned workstations.

Workers were asked to report the number of short sick leave spells -- defined as a week or less -- they'd taken over the past year as well as the number of long spells, or periods longer than a week. The study found 'a significant association with office type' when it came to the short sick leave spells: workers in small, medium and large open office layouts had 'elevated risks' as compared to those who had private offices. Those most likely to take a few days off from work were workers in open offices with 4 to 9 people per room and those in open offices with more than 24 people per room.

The authors have a few hypotheses as to why open-plan layouts are worse for employee health. Packing more workers into close quarters could increase the spread of infection, or workers without their own offices could be exposed to more 'environmental stressors,' including noise and less personal control over their surroundings.

Nearly 70% of offices have open plan layouts, according to a 2010 survey of 424 facility management professionals by the International Facility Management Association. The popularity of private offices has steadily declined as open floor plans and unassigned seating have become more common, according to the survey. In 2010, 32% of respondents reported having a setup that employed private offices, a drop from 36% in 1997.

Proponents of open office spaces point to benefits like increased collaboration between workers, more friendly relationships and a faster spread of information. But less privacy and more noise can take a toll too; workers may find themselves distracted or display poorer cognitive performance when it comes to tasks that involve a lot of math or memorization, Danielsson says.

Michael Taylor, a workspace researcher for Grand Rapids, Mich.-based office furniture company Steelcase Inc., says that as open plan layouts started to go mainstream in the late 2000s, he began being approached by corporate facilities professionals concerned about the health risks associated with breaking down office and cubicle walls.

'It is front and center in some people's minds,' he says.

Steelcase has responded by designing furniture that aims to keep the sniffles at bay. A new desk, for example, has silver ion on areas where workers are likely to frequently put their hands, such as the lever to adjust the desk up or down. The silver ion kills certain bacteria, Taylor says. Steelcase has also started manufacturing office chair parts out of material that mimics the physical texture of shark skin, which eliminates 90 to 95% of bacteria, according to Taylor.

Many anti-germ technologies are still in development; Taylor says he doesn't know when the shark skin-like parts will be incorporated into products and put on the market.

Until every office is armed with the latest technologies in the fight against bacteria, Taylor gives out old-fashioned advice to concerned managers. Make sure your employees are washing their hands and tidying up their desks, he says.

又一个不喜欢开放式办公室的理由:它们有可能让人生病。

《工效学》(Ergonomics)杂志最近发表的一项研究的论文指出,与多名同事共用开放空间的员工比那些单独享受私密办公室的员工更有可能请短期病假。

研究人员、建筑设计师克里斯蒂娜·博丁·丹尼尔松(Christina Bodin Danielsson)和三名斯德哥尔摩大学(Stockholm University)同事调查了瑞典七种不同办公室内工作的1,852名雇员。这些办公室的布局既有私人办公室、容纳两三人的房间,也有24人以上的大开间。

受调查者被要求报告过去一年请短期病假(不长于一个星期)的次数,以及请长期病假(长于一个星期)的次数。他们发现短期病假次数与办公室类型存在“明显关联”:在小、中、大型开放式办公室工作的员工比拥有私人办公室的员工“风险更高”。请短期病假概率最高的是那些在一个房间中有四至九人的开放式办公室、以及在一个房间中有超过24人的开放式办公室工作的员工。

论文作者针对开放式布局相较而言更不利于员工健康的原因给出了几种假设。让更多员工集中在封闭空间可能会增加传染病的传染范围,没有自己办公室的员工可能会暴露于更多的“环境压力因素”,比如噪音、对周围环境缺少掌控等。

据国际设施管理协会(International Facility Management Association)2010年对424名设施管理人员的调查,接近七成的办公室都是开放式布局。这次调查显示,随着开放式布局和非指定工位的做法越来越常见,私人办公室的数量已经稳步下降。2010年32%的受访者报告其办公区域布局采用了私人办公室的形式,低于1997年36%的比例。

开放式办公场所的支持者指出了增强员工协作、增进友谊、提高信息扩散速度等好处。不过丹尼尔松说,私密性的减少和噪音的增加也有可能造成不好的影响:当工作内容跟数学或记忆力关系很大的时候,员工可能会三心二意或认知表现变差。

密歇根州大急流城(Grand Rapids)办公家具公司Steelcase Inc.的工作场所研究员迈克尔·泰勒(Michael Taylor)说,在2000年代后期开放式布局开始成为主流的时候,开始有企业设施管理人员来找他,他们担心打通办公室和小隔间之后会有健康风险。

他说:“在有些人心中,这个问题很重要。”

Steelcase的应对办法是设计出能控制喷嚏蔓延的家具,比如把银离子涂在新桌子可能会经常用手接触的区域,如调整桌子高度的把手上面。泰勒说,银离子会杀死某些细菌。此外,Steelcase已经开始利用模仿鲨鱼皮结构的材料来生产办公椅部件。据泰勒说,这会清除90%到95%的细菌。

很多抗菌技术仍在开发之中。泰勒说他不知道什么时候会把仿鲨鱼皮材料做成的部件用到产品当中并推向市场。

在每一间办公室都装备了最新抗菌技术之前,泰勒为心存顾虑的管理者们给出了一条老套的建议。他说,要确保员工经常洗手、经常清理办公桌。

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