Auckland Research Suggests That Women Feel More Stressed In Open Plan Offices

Posted by on Aug 6, 2018 in Business | Comments Off on Auckland Research Suggests That Women Feel More Stressed In Open Plan Offices

Auckland Research Suggests That Women Feel More Stressed In Open Plan Offices

How a company organises their office chairs in Auckland or wherever their office is has matters greatly for efficient operations, with open office plans being a recent idea touted for its efficiency and increased productivity. A recent study by a New Zealand researcher, however, suggests that there might be an issue with these plans, as they make women in the work space feel uncomfortable.

The study was conducted by Rachel Morrison, a Senior Research Lecturer at the Auckland University of Technology, over the course of two years, with the aim of discovering whether or not open office plans actually improved productivity in the office, and discovered that men and women gave very different outlooks on the layouts of office chairs in Auckland, an interesting difference.

She says that the study involved following and surveying 99 employees from a law firm as they were making the transition to open-plan office spaces, and noticed the trend in the answers given from the women in the workplace. Many of the men in the company saw the open-plan office space as a good thing, while many of the women said that they felt ‘watched’ and ‘judged’ in the new layout.

Morrison says she found the disparity in opinions on the layouts striking, with only the women registering feelings of being observed, watched or monitored, whilst not a single man had that opinion. One woman who took part in the study even went so far as to say that she felt like she was in a fish bowl thanks to the office layout.

The worker explains that, back at her previous office, there was a mindset of getting work done within the time needed then simply going home, whilst, with the way the office chairs in Auckland were laid out in the open-plan layout, that there was a subtle pressure to stay later even though there might be no need, based on how co-workers, even from entirely different teams, looked at others.

Business psychologist Jashindar Singh says that the reason some women find open-plan layout stressful is that they feel a certain amount of social pressure to behave and dress in a certain way thanks to feeling as if they were on display.

Morrison says that this is big, and, in her opinion, outweighs the benefits of open-plan layouts. She says that there’s a lot of evidence about the effects of stress on the psychological and physical well-being of workers. Morrison explains while she admits whether or not the fact that women were being observed more than men is beyond the scope of her project, the stress these women experience is very much noticeable and is impacting performance negatively.