Open office plans, long thought to foster creativity and communication in workplace, have been getting a critical look recently. At The New Yorker Maria Konnikova posts a fresh round of criticisms:
The psychologist Nick Perham, who studies the effect of sound on how we think, has found that office commotion impairs workers’ ability to recall information, and even to do basic arithmetic. Listening to music to block out the office intrusion doesn’t help: even that, Perham found, impairs our mental acuity. Exposure to noise in an office may also take a toll on the health of employees. In a study by the Cornell University psychologists Gary Evans and Dana Johnson, clerical workers who were exposed to open-office noise for three hours had increased levels of epinephrine—a hormone that we often call adrenaline, associated with the so-called fight-or-flight response. What’s more, Evans and Johnson discovered that people in noisy environments made fewer ergonomic adjustments than they would in private, causing increased physical strain. The subjects subsequently attempted to solve fewer puzzles than they had after working in a quiet environment; in other words, they became less motivated and less creative.
How to cope with the noise and stress.
Workers and researches are finding solutions to these problems. I’ve seen everything from earplugs to white noise apps suggested to block out the noise of the modern cubicle farm. Getting up every couple hours and moving around for a few minutes helps mitigate the strain of sitting all day. And research suggests that decorating your cubicle helps you assert a measure of control over your environment, which helps the lack of privacy easier to bear.
How do you cope with the stresses of the cubicle? Share your tips in the comments.
Source: The New Yorker