Co-Working Spaces

Study Shows Private Offices More Conducive to Productivity Than Open Co-Working Spaces

Anyone in the market for commercial office space might want to think twice about jumping into one of the popular co-working spaces that are springing up throughout San Diego and Carlsbad. That’s because those office environments might not be as conducive to productivity and collaboration as tenants are led to believe. This, according to one of the first empirical studies done on the effectiveness of open-office floorplans.

The Washington Post touted the results of the 2018 study with this headline: Open office plans are as bad as you thought.

The study, co-authored by Dr. Ethan Bernstein, professor of Organizational Behavior at Harvard Business School, concluded that while open-office plans are embraced by architects and corporate accountants, and championed by budget-minded CEOs, they are quite likely a drain on business and personal productivity.

Bernstein, in a recent interview with the Harvard Business Review, explains: “I think the open office space ‘revolution’ has gone too far. If you’re sitting in a sea of people, for instance, you might not only work hard to avoid distraction (by, for example, putting on big headphones) but—because you have an audience at all times—also feel pressure to look really busy. Indeed, all of the cues in open offices that we give off to get focused work done also make us less, not more, likely to interact with others. That’s counterproductive.”

Sonya Orme, President of Prime Executive Offices in Carlsbad, agrees. “Shared workspaces might be alluring due to the low cost for an independent contractor who’s writing software code, but it’s likely going to be a drain on productivity for the clients we typically cater to: accountants, lawyers, financial planners, marketing executives and the like. These positions require not only periods of quiet thought and concentration, but also numerous confidential phone calls and private meetings with clients. For this class of worker, open floorplans are going to be counterproductive and deliver mostly large doses of frustration.”

Orme says her executive center, which features modern, affordable all-windowed offices and well-appointed conference rooms, was designed with comfort, privacy and productivity in mind.

“Long before this study came out,” says Orme, “we’ve known what our tenants want and need in a workspace – and that’s a clean, modern environment with a convenient location that provides their business with a welcoming air of professionalism for themselves and their clients.” “Oh,” she adds, “and we also provide privacy, which is important for any professional who’s got work to do and a job to get done.”

Bernstein, the Harvard professor, supports that notion: “(There’s a) natural human desire for privacy, and when we don’t have privacy, we find ways of achieving it.”


Sonya Orme is President of Prime Executive Offices and previously served as CEO of an international medical device company. In addition to operating her executive suites company, she regularly coaches and mentors entrepreneurs. Prime Executive Offices is located at 2244 Faraday Ave., Carlsbad, near Palomar Airport and offers a range of offices, virtual offices, mailboxes, and conference rooms at affordable prices. Prospective tenants and clients can learn more by calling 760-431-1100 or visiting