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Open office spaces may lead to surveillance anxiety, finds study

07-12-18 Category: Anxiety, Mental Health

Open office spaces may lead to surveillance anxiety, finds study

An open office space layout has always been believed to be a blessing for both the organization as well as the employees. While it allows easy and smooth communication among the team members and improves the workflow, it also enables each team member to deliver better productivity. However, a recent study conducted by the Harvard University has found that employees working in open office spaces interact more via email and less in person that goes on to hamper their productivity.

The latest before-and-after study, published in the journal “Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B” in July 2018, was conducted by researchers Ethan Bernstein and Stephen Turban on the basis of data collected from two Fortune 500 companies. The data included details about the ways in which employees behaved while working in open offices and before the redesigning. The researchers asked around 150 participating employees to wear a gizmo called a sociometric badge. For three weeks, their movement and behavior, location, posture and every conversation with colleagues in the form of text messages or email subjects were recorded using infrared and sound sensors before and after the redesign.

On analyzing the data, the researchers concluded the following:

  1. Employees preferred to stay more at their desks and enjoyed their private time with the internet.
  2. They spent around 72 percent less time interacting in person. While they previously invested 5.8 hours per person a day in face-to-face interaction, this average time went down to around 1.7 hours per day.
  3. They interacted more online and sent around 56 percent more emails to other employees over 15 days.
  4. The rate of instant messaging (IM) activity increased by 67 percent.
  5. The productivity rate of all the employees declined after the introduction of open office space.

Visual transparency leads to surveillance anxiety

Forcing employees to work in such an environment offers complete visual transparency that might make many feel uncomfortable and lead to surveillance anxiety. This form of anxiety develops when a person lives or sits under constant observation feeling that his/her activities are being constantly monitored. People, specifically women, feel more exposed when they are made to work in such a setting where there are transparent glasses and undefined spaces.

The actual idea behind creating open office spaces is to improve interaction between the employees but that generally does not take place. Instead, a majority of them begin to isolate themselves, try to appear as busy as possible and also begin to avoid all sorts of interaction with the co-workers. They are unhappy and unsatisfied employees. Social interactions are important to help a person deal with issues and problems in life and lack of them can create stress.

Avoid creating an unhealthy work environment

While every individual likes being followed on social media platforms, no one supports the idea of getting tracked at every single moment. Doing so tends to create an unhealthy work atmosphere as well as make one feel anxious at every step.

In case, anxiety has already affected you and you are looking to connect with some of the best anxiety disorder treatment centers, Sovereign Health can help. We are one of the leading treatment facilities for anxiety disorder in the United States offering a personalized treatment plan for every individual. You can call at our 24/7 helpline number or chat online with our representative to get complete details about the finest anxiety disorder rehab centers, or the best rehabilitation centers in the U.S.

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