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FlexSpace products solve noise and privacy issues in open offices. 

Office pods lead the way in office design(1)

Views: 115     Author: Site Editor     Publish Time: 2022-11-15      Origin: Site


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Open floor plans have become a minefield of distraction for office workers - phones ringing constantly, colleagues chattering and typing on keyboards - all of which have the potential to disrupt a productive working day.

These stylish, self-contained booths are increasingly sought after by employers and popular with workers. They provide a quiet space for employees to make important phone calls, focus on their work or take a quick break.

Caitlin Turner, designer at global design and urban planning firm HoK, says: "We're seeing a big trend towards having individual, freestanding enclosures." The growing demand for pods is a direct result of employees expressing their need for privacy, she says.

While Frank Lloyd Wright introduced the open floor plan in the early 1900s, its popularity has skyrocketed over the past two decades as companies look to promote collaboration, reduce costs and create a more equal environment. In 2014, 70 per cent of companies had open plans, according to the International Facility Management Association.

open work place

But research shows that open-plan venue spaces can actually lead to social withdrawal, which fails to foster a more cohesive workforce. In a 2018 study, researchers at Harvard Business School studied two Fortune 500 companies before and after the transition to open floor plans.

They found that face-to-face time decreased by 70%, while the number of email interactions increased by 22%-50% of all interactions. The researchers said their findings could be explained by the fact that office workers ultimately want to seek privacy and try to find it through digital rather than interpersonal means.

A study by Queensland University of Technology showed that 90% of employees work in offices where open floor plans increase stress levels, conflict, blood pressure and turnover rates.

Pods can provide a break in solidarity. Private cubicles are designed to be extremely small and are usually equipped with chairs, tables, sockets, skylights, glass doors and soundproof walls.

Pod manufacturers are expanding rapidly. Pod sizes also vary, including individual booths designed for a single user, medium-sized pods for small gatherings of two to three people and larger executive spaces that can accommodate up to four to six people.

Sam Johnson, founder of Zenbooth, says the idea for the pods came from his experience working in the tech industry, where he quickly became frustrated with open floor plans. It was an "unresolved issue" that prompted him to quit his job and find ZenBooth, a pod company in the Bay Area, in 2016.

The company, he says, is a "privacy solutions provider" that offers "psychological safety" through a peaceful space to work and think.

"We've had customers tell us that we really couldn't do our job without your product," Johnson says.

The company now counts companies like Samsung, Intel, Capital One and Pandora as clients as it works in tech hubs like Boston, the Bay Area, New York and Seattle. Its largest client, Lyft, has 35 to 40 booths in its facilities.

"I find it's one of the most important complaints when companies realise there's not enough space for their employees," he says. "It's an emotional issue - they're willing to pay an extra 10 per cent for rush."

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