Trendy Open Office Coworking Is Blocking Productivity

August 7, 2014

10:18 am

This coworking series is sponsored by .CO. We thank them for their support!

In the last few years, we've seen a surge of coworking spaces everywhere, and according to statistics, there are 820 coworking spaces active in the world. The reason for coworking spaces popping up everywhere is, of course, demand for a certain type of workplace that is open and collaborative. But it can also be distracting.

As it turns out, open-plan offices, which are the cheapest and trendiest option offered by most coworking spaces, aren't ideal for getting work done. Recent studies have determined that open offices can have “detrimental effects on workplace productivity because of lack of sound privacy.

Your workspace environment has a direct impact on your productivity and well-being. Being available to exchange ideas all the time can lead to frequent interruptions of workflow.

So how to find the balance between open communications and productivity in your coworking space arrangement?

If you're looking for collaboration, open space is ideal for you

Maybe your startup is developing a product and you need some input, or you may just be a small team and working with other companies will help the implementation significantly. Whichever reason, having an open space office may be ideal for your particular startup because part of your growth and product optimization relies on an open environment. That means offices without windows and doors, where interaction is seamless.

“For my startup Plucked, open space is best because it requires a lot of collaboration. I frequently hear other people’s insights, opinions, and suggestions and open space makes that much easier,” says founder Denisha Kuhlor, who works from Hubcap Wallingford in Connecticut. 


“Everyone shares a a common goal, we're not here to punch a time clock from 9-5. We're here to build an idea, no matter what that takes. We can bounce ideas off of one another and take advantage of each other's networking circles. Everyone has something different to offer, we are surrounded by one another's resources,” says Dylan Stone, founder of Sierra Virtual, who works from The Reno Collective in Reno.


“The atmosphere around the space was great, and we felt comfortable chatting with people around the foosball table, the coffee machine, etc. We quickly made connections and were attracted by the diversity of companies and skills present. In fact, they organize networking events nearly every week, and this was important for us since we're first-time entrepreneurs, and are always looking for advice and guidance,” says Simon-Pierre Behr of SpotLight Parking, who works from WeWork in Boston. 

When choosing a coworking space and office arrangement, find out what kind of startups and entrepreneurs are doing business in the space. This information is crucial to deciding if a space is best for your business.

If you're a growing business by day and want to be part of a community by night, a private office is ideal for you

If your startup has a large team, you need a private office. If you are in the stage of business growth where the development is internal and to customers, you don't need the distractions of working in an open desk. Most coworking spaces offer private offices for a higher price, which is worth it because you get the silence your team may need and the community benefits of the coworking space. Sometimes it's better to have a private office, but if the coworking space offers quiet options for open desks, it may be a cheaper yet productive alternative.

“It's important to have strategic pockets of spaces where members can break out and do a quick Skype call, have private conversation with a fellow coworker, or just get a change of environment,” says Michelle Woo, general manager of coworking space The Co in Singapore.

10. The Co Office Suite 1

“I am based in the coworking space at Chicago Catapult and my business partner is in San Diego. Catapult is more than an office, it’s a vibrant community that offers access to resources including forums with other founders, user testing, business services, and access to capital. I liked Catapult the best since it provided a healthy mix of community and quiet workspace to allow you to actually get something done. Perhaps it’s my age, but I needed an environment that provided stimulation but wasn’t overwhelming,” says John Zappa, COO of Knoitall, Inc., who works from Catapult Chicago.

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Mitch Fese of Matchnode, who works from Port Chi in Chicago, values the “ability to talk to other companies but also have your own private office where it is easy to have phone calls on speaker without interruption.”

“WeWork Labs became a great option because the first floor, called ‘labs,' is for small startups. It's a huge open space with cathedral ceilings and long wooden desks. Open, airy, and full of life. Even though nearly 100 people can sit there easily, it never fills up to the point of being stuffed,” says Preeti Moberg, founder of Blue Mango Weddings.

“We needed a coworking space that provided both the open, collaborative atmosphere that we have come to love, as well as high-end, professional conference rooms for demonstrations and sales meetings,” explains Taylor MacPartland, cofounder of FilmBreak, who works from Ignited Spaces in Los Angeles.


“Finding a place that consistently has events and learning experiences is great. It's often times difficult to come up to random people busy at work, but having networking events in-house provide a lot of great opportunities. 1871 has ed-tech lunches from time to time that we've felt have been great experiences,” says Patrick O'Keefe of Clutch Prep, who works from 1871 in Chicago.

As do most millennials, I find coworking spaces and open office arrangements to be ideal, especially because I find cubicles and closed offices stuffy and stagnant. The benefits of joining a coworking space are endless for startups in every stage, but that's besides the point. Finding a way to maximize productivity and collaboration opportunities depends on the arrangement you pick.

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Camila has been heavily active in South Florida’s tech startup community, where she is a co-host of a local radio show called pFunkcast. Camila previously worked at Greenpeace International and the Organization of the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in various communication roles. A proud Brazilian who spent most of he life in Peru, she is passionate about traveling and documentaries.