5 Of The Biggest Complaints About Open-Office Trends And Coworking

Before you make employees trade in privates offices for a first-come-first-serve seat, at a shared table, keep these five coworking complaints in mind.

Photo: Frank Chalupa, President and co-founder of Amata Office Solutions; Source: Courtesy Photo
Photo: Frank Chalupa, President and co-founder of Amata Office Solutions; Source: Courtesy Photo

It’s estimated that over a lifetime, you’ll spend an average of 90,000 hours at work (Psychology Today).  That’s a long time, especially if you’ve created a company culture or office environment that isn’t enjoyable or conducive to the daily activities of running your company.

While open-office space design and coworking have wooed many startups and small businesses, they’ve also generated criticisms and claims that the open-office trend is “destroying the workplace.”

So, before you make employees trade in privates offices for a first-come-first-serve seat, at a shared table, keep these five complaints in mind:


  1. Excuse me, that’s my seat!

    Not a morning person? You might want to readjust your schedule. Showing up to a coworking space after 9 a.m. could mean sitting next to the elevator, kitchen, or other high-traffic areas where it’s difficult to concentrate. Even if you’re lucky enough to snag one of the better seats in the house, you could find yourself fending off desk snatchers if you step away for lunch or a quick coffee run.

  2. Yes, I can hear you now.

    Sitting in a new seat each day is great for networking, unless you’re next to a loud neighbor who takes personal calls at their desk and would rather talk about what they did last night than grow their business. Translation: pack your noise-canceling headphones.

  3. Is it hot in here, or is it just me?

    Lighting and temperature can directly impact performance and productivity, yet the majority of coworking spaces offer little control over these and other workplace variables.

    A Cornell study found the optimal office temperature to be 77 degrees, which is bound to be too warm for some, too cool for others and “just right” for the rest. Other studies suggest exposure to natural light helps keep employees alert and focused. While fans, space heaters and desk lamps can help – if you have a place to store them, that is – sometimes the best way to avoid the Goldilocks effect is to look for a workspace with customized options.

  4. Did someone eat my lunch?

    Some coworking spaces offer dedicated offices. However, many take the minimalist approach, offering a desk, chair and little else. That means you’ll have to cart personal belongings to and from the office each day, or try cramming them into a small storage locker, for a fee. This can be more than just a minor inconvenience.

    Without having a dedicated area to store food, beverages and other office “necessities,” you and your team may find yourself eating out at nearby restaurants more frequently, a habit that can strain a startup budget and waistline.

  5. Can you give me some privacy?

    A thoughtfully designed coworking space will include separate conference “huddle” rooms and phone booths  for private calls and conversations, but not all office providers follow this blueprint.

    If your employees don’t have access to enclosed meeting areas they may have to resort to using lobbies and other public spaces with a lot of background noise, limited seating, and fewer work surfaces for laptops and notepads.

Taking the time to vet an office environment before committing to it is one of the best ways to avoid workplace burnout. When in doubt, talk to the people who already members of the coworking space. If there are issues, they will happily share their grievances.


This article has been edited and condensed.

Frank Chalupa is thePresident and co-founder of Amata Office Solutions, Chicago’s largest privately owned office suites provider. Founded in 2002, Amata specializes in office solutions for companies requiring up to 10,000 square feet of office space. A licensed brokerage, Amata’s clientele includes businesses of all sizes, including solo practitioners and startups, as well as large corporations looking to establish satellite locations in Chicago. Connect with @AmataOffices on Twitter.


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