Someone's Trying to Make Us Like Open Offices

If you love open office layouts at work, you're about to get your first bit of good news in a long while. We already know the hip but mostly cheap way of organizing a workplace makes us antisocial, vulnerable to harassment, sicker for longer, and generally overloaded. But hey — at least it gets us moving.

Researchers at the University of Arizona have just released a study suggesting that spending your day in an open office reduces your daytime stress and increases your activity levels as compared to workers in cubicles and private offices. The data comes from stress monitors worn for a period by federal employees, rather than subjective reports.

Workers in an open-bench seating environment "were 32 percent more physically active at the office than those in private offices and 20 percent more active than those in cubicles," according to a press release. "Importantly, workers who were more physically active at the office had 14 percent less physiological stress outside of the office compared to those with less physical activity at the office."

Of course, this data does flatten out a number of "soft" factors, like comfort levels and productivity. Occupational sitting does pose a problem for office workers, to the point where some lawyers believe employees may be entitled to compensation for it. But a nontrivial number of workers — almost 1 in 5 — would abolish the open office system if they could. There are other ways to mitigate being glued to a computer all day. If you're able to make a decision about how your office gets organized, be sure to take all information into account.