Pros and Cons of Open Concept Offices and Co-working Spaces

I am inspired to write this post, after visiting The Station at 401 Richmond, here in Toronto. 401 Richmond is an incredible building that gives creatives the space to do what they love.

Not going to lie, I definitely got lost in the tunnels, turns, and twists that house a new endeavor at every corner before making my way to the The Station. The Station is co-working space specific for creatives. It’s an open space that provides freelancers, small business owners and anyone working on personal passion projects to get their work done. Adorned with massive windows, exposed brick walls, and a well-stocked kitchen, the space is inviting yet profesional. Visiting their open-house yesterday got me thinking about what it was like to work in an open or co-working space.

Over the years, I’ve had the opportunities to work at a number of different offices from ones that were complete with cubicles, others that were the definition of open concept and yet more that lie somewhere in the middle.

Today, I’ve decided to put together a list of pros and cons of open and co-working spaces.

Pros

1. Collaboration

Possibly the best thing about open concept offices and co-working spaces is the opportunity for collaboration. An open concept office can help to break down the silos that previously existed. In a co-working space, although people may be working on completely different projects, it’s a great opportunity to be exposed to a number of different industries. A co-working space can essentially be a great networking opportunity.

2. Transparency

No walls means you’re not hiding anything. The barrier-less concept that comes with open offices and co-working spaces are is not only  the perfect way to symbolize transparency in all aspects of a business,  but it actually puts the notion into action as well.

3. Accountability

Jumping off my point on transparency, accountability can also be a positive outcome of open concept and co-working spaces. Working in this type of environment puts you in a position where you are may be accountable to your boss as well as other employees in your space.

4. Comfort

Open concept and co-working spaces also offer flexibility in terms of comfort. Many open spaces can offer shared desk seating, private seating, and couches. Moving away from the cubical organized office can also allow room for new sources of light, especially natural light. Seeing that we spend up so much time in the office, the comforts that come with open spaces can be a big plus.

Cons

1. Privacy

No walls can also mean no privacy. If you’re the type of worker that needs your own space an open space may not be a good route for you. Not that I’m implying that you’ll be working on anything you aren’t supposed to be at work. It’s simply nice to have your own space for important calls and meetings for example.

2. Noise

In theory open concept offices and co-working spaces should have no more noise than an office with walls. However, just the opportunity to chat and collaborate with other can increase noise. Other noises that could come into play could be people who are on the phone for work and the clicks of your mouse or keyboard.

3. Distractions

I’ve touched on the fact that people could be more collaborative in open spaces, but this can also be highly distracting for people who prefer to work on their own. Beyond that, open concept offices and co-working spaces can offer other distraction – what happening outside that window? Who’s in the kitchen? Is someone using my favorite couch spot?

4. Comfort (again)

I had to mention this point again, from personal experience. I currently work from home and I see a dramatic difference in how I work depending on if I’m in bedroom, on my couch, or at my desk. That being said, shared desks, or couches may be a negative in a work environment depending on your work style.

How do you prefer to get your work done?

I’d also love to explore more great spaces in the city that offer a similar vibe. So, if you have any recommendations, shoot me a Tweet @TabithaDavid.

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