Despite being the most common working environment, open plan offices may actually be detrimental to employee health, wellbeing and productivity, according to recent Canada Life Group Insurance research.
When asked to rank how easy it is to be healthy and productive in their working environment, employees in open plan offices gave an average score of 6.1 and 6.5 out of ten respectively. Employees who work mostly from home gave scores of 8.1 for health and 7.7 for productivity.
While employees who work from home only took an average of 1.8 sick days last year, workers in open plan offices took 3.1 days.
Those working in an open plan office are also almost six times more likely than home workers to believe their working environment promotes stress (28% vs 5%), with previous research demonstrating workplace stress can significantly increase absence levels.
In addition, while 41% of office workers believed their employer provided access to an Employee Assistance Programme, only 11% of home workers thought they could utilise such a service. There is a similar discrepancy in the provision of local rehabilitation support (39% v 8%) and second medical opinion services (24% v 9%).
Canada Life said this may actually be down to employers not effectively communicating what is available.
Paul Avis, Marketing Director of Canada Life Group, said: "Despite the advent of technological advances such as faster broadband, employers have not proactively embraced the opportunity to change working patterns. With increasing commute times for many, trusting employees to work from home can increase morale and reduce stress levels whilst giving employees more time in their day.
"For those of us who are truly engaged with the workplace, the recycling of commuting time into work time provides an immediate gain in productivity, as well as im