60% prefer traditional offices to co-working or ‘open plans’

November 27, 2017

As the economy shifts to encourage the engagement of more contractors and fewer full-time employees, professionals who savor a sense of community as well as a comfortable workspace at a comparatively low cost—many of them Millennials—are increasingly turning to co-working providers.  But is that what they really prefer?

Top among the co-working providers is WeWork, a seven-year-old New York City-based collaborative space that offers such amenities as a loft-like locations, catered lunch, IT support, healthcare insurance, payment processing and more—and in doing so, has become the third biggest U.S. startup by valuation ($21.06 billion), after Uber ($68 billion) and Airbnb ($31 billion) and before SpaceX ($21 billion), according to a report by Recode, based on PitchBook data.

But there are a number of similar providers springing up cross-country—among them, Regus, Carr, and Spaces.

If not in a co-working space, many offices are turning to open floor plans. In fact, 70% of U.S. offices now have an open office layout, according to The Washington Post. And while these spaces are supposedly meant to foster collaboration; they offer a distinct lack of privacy, which can lead to poor productivity for those who are easily distracted.

And there’s the rub: Indeed, according to findings of a recent Civic Science poll, fully 60% of U.S. adults prefer to work in a traditional office space (such as a law office).

Even when the polling organization considered that co-working spaces and open office spaces are much more geared towards Millennials, it seemed that a similar story holds true: While there is a definitive correlation between age and the type of office space a person prefers to work in, the researchers said, most Millennials still prefer to work in a traditional office space. Only 15% of Millennials prefer an open office space – which is slightly higher than the general population – and only 13% prefer to work in a co-working space.

Despite this low preference for open and co-working spaces, Civic Science did find another interesting correlation—job happiness. In fact, adults who prefer to work in a co-working space or an open office space are roughly twice as likely, the pollsters said, to say they are “very happy” in their current job. Those who prefer to work in a traditional office space are most likely to answer, “very unhappy.”

Since suburban households have more room for a private office, it is little surprise that people who prefer co-working spaces are more likely to live in a city.

Companies might want to think twice before jumping on the co-working and open layout bandwagon. Although these spaces provide many benefits, and although they may be fun, it looks like most people are content with traditional office spaces. They might not be as loud, or as collaborative, but the numbers don’t lie.

Research contact: Jordan@civicscience.com

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