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People in an open-plan office are more often ill


Download PDF It’s a trend at more and more companies: open-plan offices without any fixed workstations. Research now shows that people who work at these flexible workstations take more (63% more) sick days than people who have their own office. But this can be prevented.

Working at home
According to a study conducted by Cornell University, the main reason why people who work in an open-plan office are more often sick is that 72% of employees go to work even when they are sick. In an open-plan office with flexible workstations, bacteria spread very quickly. The solution, however, is simple: encourage working at home. Telecommuting and flexible working, and the fact that employees can decide where and when they work mean they will more often start working at home if they have a cold or the flu. This way, they can go right on working without infecting their co-workers.

A personal keyboard for everyone
Employees who don’t have their own workstation often have access to a laptop. To still be able to work in an ergonomically responsible way, employees at flexible workstations will often share an external monitor, keyboard and mouse with their co-workers. According to British researchers, these shared keyboards and mice harbor a huge number of bacteria and are sometimes even more unhygienic than toilet seats. One in ten of the keyboards in this study was so unhygienic that it formed a risk to the health of employees. Although washing hands after using a keyboard will considerably reduce the chance of employees catching a cold from a previous user, it would be better for each employee to have his/her own compact keyboard and external mouse. Another advantage is that not only can employees with a set of telecommuting and flexible working (TFW) accessories work hygienically but they can also work in an ergonomically responsible way with their laptop.


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