Zenbooth Blog

Though the open office space has been around since the 1960s, it felt particularly timely as Millennials joined the workforce in 2010. They were cost-effective for start-ups and new companies, and felt more creative and anti-establishment. 

They were also more flexible, more human. Open floor-planned co-working spaces were perfect for freelancers in the ever-growing gig economy. 


The standard workspace we imagine as place with cubicles or open space has gone through several iterations over the last few decades.

Office design in 2022 may take a variety of shapes but the ‘90s style workplace where each person has a desk and cubicle is still popular – mainly because it’s a cost-effective design that allows more workers to be squeezed into limited square footage.



Recently, we heard from our customers that there was one comfort feature that they were particularly interested in: air quality, and more specifically, the emission of volatile organic compounds (or VOCs) inside the booths. Being able to breathe is comfort; knowing that the air you’re breathing is safe is necessary.  As soon as we learned of this concern, we got to work figuring out how to credibly confirm what we already knew to be an inherently safe product.1

We’re proud to announce that, as of this year, all Zenbooth products have earned an Intertek Clean Air GOLD certification, the highest distinction in Intertek’s Clean Air program.


Office trends come and go, with some businesses eagerly jumping on the bandwagon. One such trend is the concept of open-plan office spaces.

A report from the International Facility Management Association revealed that 70 percent of offices use an open floor plan.

Initially intended as a cost-cutting measure for reducing the square footage of office space, the open design  was believed to encourage collaboration and communication among teammates. In reality, the open space concept reduced worker productivity. It has ultimately led to businesses devising new ways to make the open office more private.

Open Office Spaces by the Numbers

A 2018 Harvard study showed open office spaces reduced communication among coworkers. Another report found that open office environments produced a negative effect on employees, including decreased attention span and productivity. The same report found elevated stress levels among employees subjected to such workspaces.

In addition to feeling stressed and distracted, some expressed dissatisfaction with their jobs because of the open layout. Being forced to work in an environment that was not conducive to encouraging productivity led those same employees to find it necessary to search for other employment.


Touted as the “cure” to row after row of soul-sucking cubicles, open office spaces promised collaboration, innovation, increased productivity and so much more.

With their cost-efficient design, clean look and supposed productivity boost, open offices sounded like the perfect setup…until they didn’t.

A study done in 2018 by Harvard Business School discovered that face-to-face interaction between coworkers decreased by 70 percent when employees moved from a closed workspace to an open office environment. Exactly the opposite of what they’re supposed to do!

For the most part, employees are less happy in open office spaces where distraction and lack of privacy make working difficult. And employee dissatisfaction means decreased productivity and higher turnover. Another 2018 study found that approximately 13 percent of office employees considered quitting their job because of this office layout.

Let’s talk about some of the most common open office problems and what you can do to mitigate them.

1. Loud Noise With No Escape

It’s no surprise that corralling dozens of employees in the same spaces is going to create noise. Even the necessary, everyday office functions like collaborating with a coworker on a project, printing documents or even simply typing can contribute to the level of noise pollution in an office.


The recent coronavirus pandemic has spurred businesses to think more critically about their office layouts. Many employees have been working from home because their open office floor plans were not conducive to preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus.

However, even without health concerns, open workplace environments have many other downfalls – downfalls that usually outweigh their benefits. Fortunately, there’s a simple solution that addresses many of these problems: the office pod. 

The Conundrum of Open Office Floor Plans

Open office floor plans took off during the 1980s and afterwards, although they’ve actually been around for hundreds of years, like in bookkeeping and newsrooms. It was thought that open workspaces facilitated creativity and the flow of information between employees. But those benefits came with a price.

Workers Complain About Too Much Noise and Distractions

One of the worst disadvantages of open offices is the noise and distractions that are inherent in their design. Even with cubical dividers, users can’t help but overhear work conversations and the sounds of office machinery. In some cases, fellow employees listen to music, watch videos, and engage in personal chats on their mobile phones.

Noisy offices can make businesses sound unprofessional to clients on the other end of a phone call. In-person meetings disrupt everyone around them, but it doesn’t always make sense to sign out a large conference room for just a few people.


The open-plan office is the most basic and conventional workspace layout today, with 70 percent of American companies having adopted a form of open floor design. 

But even though many employers favor the idea of having employees work at arms length of each other, this layout scheme actually diminishes productivity because what workers really crave is privacy.

How Workers Operate Without Privacy in Open-Plan Offices

A majority of employers believe that an open office encourages face-to-face interactions between coworkers, boosting workplace collaboration. It also seems easier to manage and supervise employees without physical barriers breaking the field of view. Do these claims hold any truth, and is such close supervision really necessary or welcome in a work environment?

A recent Harvard study investigating the correlation between open office architecture and collaboration found that the former does not inspire teamwork and is actually counterproductive. Firms that switched to open offices saw a 70-percent drop in face-to-face interactions. Besides, forced co-presence, which is what an open floor plan promotes, does not necessarily result in productive cooperation among coworkers.


There are tons of articles online that try to offer tips and tricks for finding peace and quiet at work. Unfortunately, soundproof office cubicles are just NOT a thing. 

Soundproof headphones and strict office rules may bring the volume down, but for a real solution, employers will have to look to high-end furniture that is made for the modern office space.

Why Soundproofing Your Office Cubicle Is Harder Than It Seems

One of the most common complaints among workers everywhere is that their office is too loud. Whether they're in office cubicles, an open office or an agile office layout, it seems like there aren't enough realistic options for folks who need a quiet space to get away from distractions. 

Studies have even shown that employees would be willing to sacrifice a variety of amenities if it meant having more privacy at work, including vacation days and coffee machines. 

Without soundproofing, workers are more likely to get distracted by ringing phones, fingers typing, conversations among coworkers and even interpersonal conflict.


The COVID-19 pandemic has focused people's attention on keeping their home & work environments clean and sanitized.

This is especially true if you work in an office environment that remains open during the outbreak. And if you’re fortunate enough to have office phone booths or pods, you may be looking for some special tips on how to keep them sanitary during this challenging time.


Maintaining a clean work environment is essential to your health, well-being and that of your staff. We've got some best practices below so you can continue maximizing your office booth.

Cleanliness Starts With a Well-Communicated Policy

The first thing to know is that the success of your office cleaning regime, including specific areas such as phone booths, will depend on a robust and well-communicated cleaning policy.

Let your entire staff know the expected frequency and method of cleaning. If your office provides clorox wipes or lysol, make sure the entire team knows where they are. Same with plastic gloves. An ideal frequency for cleaning most areas is before and after an employee is done using them. 

Also inform individual staff members of their personal hygienic responsibilities. This includes washing their hands for 30 seconds before and after using communal areas or shared spaces.


As staff become increasingly conscious of their job's health effects, employers are looking for a variety of solutions to boost their workers’ well-being. 

An article in Forbes magazine suggested that businesses who have an employee wellness program are more likely to be rewarded by employees recommending their company as a good place to work.

It also quoted research in which 61 percent of employees agreed that their company’s wellness program inspired them to make healthy changes to their lifestyles. The result was that productivity at work went up, as well as job satisfaction.

And something as simple as installing an office phone booth in your floor plan can help you find the healthy balance you need. These products offer many health benefits — from the mental to the physical — which are worth looking into. 

What Is an Office Phone Booth?

Office phone booths are a free-standing pod that can be used in any area of your workplace to provide privacy.

If you go with a provider like Zenbooth, these products are soundproofed to ensure that conversations can’t be heard beyond the booth itself, and may be equipped with an electric, height adjustable desk to make daily tasks more convenient.


As the business world grows ever more competitive, each bit of added productivity matters. Unfortunately, the very layout of an office can torpedo plans for maximized output.

Zenbooth has created office spaces perfect for 21st-century operations. Our products allow companies to push for higher versatility and work levels by helping staff encounter fewer distractions. They may even enjoy better health as a result of installing our solo and meeting pods. 

The 20th Century Open Office Concept

In 1950s West Germany, innovators in office design started to pioneer the open office concept. Simply put, the idea was to remove walls from workspaces, encouraging more communication or collaboration.

Some American workplaces, such as newsrooms and police departments, where much work took place outside the office, had already employed this strategy. 


Working remotely is a desired perk for many professionals. But sadly, many of us have no other choice given the ongoing pandemic.

In order to effectively and efficiently work from home, employees need a comfortable workspace that is suitably equipped to accomplish their daily tasks.

Access to the latest technology is a must, and so is a desk that will allow home office workers to sit or stand. The Zenstation from Zenbooth is an electric, height adjustable desk that fits the bill. 

Statistics on Remote Workers

Forty-one percent of global businesses surveyed by Flexjobs in July 2019 said they already offer some remote work opportunities for employees. At the January 2020 World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, hundreds of CEOs expressed support for increasing the opportunity of working from home. 

Employers late to the work-at-home revolution are now scrambling to adapt as the global response to COVID-19 (coronavirus) strengthens. Within the last couple of weeks, governments worldwide have been forced to take extreme measures to “flatten the curve” of new infections. Among the steps taken includes the mandating of “social distancing” and the closure of all non-essential businesses.


Once considered a workplace innovation, the open office has become the norm in many industries. Proponents cite the ease of collaboration and communication among coworkers. Team members need only look up from their desk or turn around in their chair to bounce ideas off their colleagues.

These advantages, however, have a flip side. Constant accessibility brings frequent interruptions, overheard phone conversations and background noise. Employees cannot control their environment, and their productivity and health suffer.

Too Much of a Good Thing?

The open office features that proponents love the most have turned out to be headaches for employees. Researchers have found that an open office actually discourages collaboration and productivity. Studies show that drawbacks to working in an open office include

  • Lack of privacy
  • Constant noise
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Lack of engagement
  • Employee stress
  • Smaller workspaces
  • Lack of choice in workspace areas

Overload and Distraction


Working from home is quickly becoming a necessary arrangement due to the coronavirus. But prior to the pandemic, many office employees were already attracted to the flexibility and freedom that come with working remotely.

In the U.S., 5 million employees work from home at least occasionally; this figure makes up about 3.6 percent of the American workforce. 3.6 percent may not seem like much, but it represents a 173 percent increase from 2005 to 2018.

Advancements in web-based technologies such as cloud computing and telecommunication are some of the main factors fueling work-from-home trends in many industries. Both employers and employees are also growing more appreciative of progressive workplace practices and policies.

Some of the main disadvantages when working from home are distractions, poor work-life balance, and low productivity. These can be solved by designating a modern workstation or home office. 

But this creates another problem. Most of us live in houses that can't accommodate a generously-spaced office. Laying out a workspace in an already congested house or apartment calls for some creativity; that's where the new ZenStation comes in.


Working in an open office has more drawbacks than one might assume. The loss of privacy and partitions results in harmful consequences that make it difficult to complete your work. Thankfully, there are plenty of tips and tricks you can use to get past these irritating office design laws. 

Some will help you get through the week while others will help you and your coworkers become a more cohesive team (and not drive each other insane). 

So whether you’re an employee or an employer, here's some expert advice on how to work in an open office and some ideas for how to change the layout so that it works for everybody!

First, What’s It Like Working in an Open Office?

Working in an open office gives you more immediate access to all your coworkers, which comes with both benefits and detriments. 


Office design is constantly changing. Many companies that initially opted for the hot-desking office style are now shifting to a more playful working environment. The main factor behind this shift is the increasing number of millennials. This group now makes up more than 35% of the workforce.

As a result, office designers are now focused on designing spaces that will accommodate "millennial culture."

Factors Influencing Millennial Office Design

The first step towards creating the ideal office space for millennials is to understand their habits and motivations. Millennials are the first generation to grow up in the information age. From a young age, they had access to mobile phones and the Internet. They could easily connect with other people. The ability to acquire information instantly has been a common feature of their daily lives from childhood.

As a generation, they are technologically-savvy, creative, and ambitious. They are ready to ditch their current place of work if they think they are not being treated well. Millennials consider the work-life balance to be more important than a paycheck. 


Many employers underestimate the effect that the workplace and office layout can have on their employees' mental health. 

Studies show that the average person spends approximately 33 percent of their waking hours at work, so it should come as no surprise that their work environment can profoundly shift their mood and well-being.

The open office layout is a favorite for modern workplaces as open offices are believed to create more space, ease communication, and promote teamwork among employees. Unfortunately, there are several downsides to the layout that can result in an increased rate of both anxiety and depression among workers. 

Given recent findings that a great office layout can improve an employee's mood by 33 percent, employers should make bigger investments in their floor plans. There are ways of altering an open office layout to have it accommodate employees better, but it's important first to understand why the open layout can be so problematic. 


For many of us, this has been the craziest two weeks in our career.  We’d like to thank our staff, customers, suppliers and partners for their support through this time.  

Zenbooth has been temporarily scaling down its operations and moving remote for the past couple weeks to protect our staff and community. Last week, this included a temporary suspension of manufacturing and shipping operations. We expect to resume operations as normal in April pending the regulatory and social environment. This post is intended to provide a status of Zenbooth’s current operations, cleaning and a glimpse into the future. 

Orders & Shipping

We are still accepting orders but will be prioritizing shipping based on requests received, and when the purchase was made. We are asking our customers to make requests, as by default the majority of our customers are unable to currently receive their orders due to shelter-in-place restrictions. Please complete this form to request a shipment in April. We will prioritize shipping to customers that are essential business and businesses that can receive and have product installed.

Cleaning phone booths 

To prevent the spread of COVID-19 we recommend cleaning frequently touched surfaces in your office. Please see our guide for cleaning the hard and soft surfaces of the booth.

The future of work

Zenbooth has always been about making work comfortable for you. We know many of you are working from home, and we’d love your input into our work from home product research and development. If you’re interested in that, please complete this form.


Over the last few decades, office spaces around the globe have dramatically transformed. From harsh, impersonal cubicles and fluorescent lighting to inviting living room style, gathering areas. Workplaces have definitely evolved for the better. 

Today's employees are often found moving freely throughout the office with their digital notepad in hand, leaving behind the shackles of segregated and cramped computer stations.

Office trends have begun to focus on ways to improve team morale and satisfaction with the hopes of inspiring greater productivity and happiness in their workers.


Office breakout areas are a new workplace trend. They create an invaluable space for employees to focus and get work done, away from all the distractions of a crowded office. 

They can be easily incorporated into every office layout idea, whether it's open, closed, or an agile work environment. 

This simple concept can have a meaningful impact on your employees' productivity, mood, and health. Thankfully, there are many different ways of creating a breakout area that works for you and your team, all within your budget.

Download Zenbooth's Detailed Product Catalogs

What Is an Office Breakout Area?

An office breakout area is essentially any space that is open to your employees outside of their designated work zone. This space can be laid out in different ways, whether it's an enclosed room, an area that's separated by partitions, or located in an open space away from desks.

Additionally, the breakout area can have various uses depending on the needs of you and your employees. The idea is simply to have a space that is apart from and is physically different than their standard workspace, as it allows employees to refocus and de-stress.


Open offices are increasingly found on the list of things workers find most annoying. For many, this doesn't come as a surprise. 

No sense of hierarchy, constant distractions, and a lack of privacy are just a few of the common criticisms made by those who work in open offices.

But what direction can companies go? Closed offices, with their cubicles and dividers, are seen by many as a thing of the past. They discourages collaboration and teamwork. With every office layout, there comes a sleuth of downsides.

Those disadvantages can result in a lower rate of productivity for your entire team. Is there a way to get the best of both worlds in your office layout? Yes! Read on to find out how.

Why Privacy Matters in Open Offices

The ability to work and conduct meetings, phone calls, and interviews in private is hugely important in any office. The biggest drawback of an open office layout is that privacy becomes much harder to achieve.

While making your office more collaborative is frequently the touted goal among those with open layouts, it should be noted that collaboration is important WHEN it's time to work together. When a worker is trying to finish a time-sensitive task, distractions and the input of others may only slow them down.



Have you heard about workplace “wellness rooms?"

These spaces are becoming increasingly common in companies around the country as more folks acknowledge the importance of providing quiet spaces for their employees.

It’s well known that the work environment can have a significant impact on how employees feel about their job, and also how they perform.

A recent insightful article in Forbes quoted the Fellowes Workplace Wellness Trend Report, which found that 87% of workers said that they wanted their employer to promote health and wellbeing with new initiatives. Among some of these ideas? Including wellness rooms in the workplace. 

What’s more, for 93 percent of people employed in tech, the provision of a healthier workspace – again, including wellness rooms – would motivate them to stay longer with their employer.

And the evidence is there to prove that the better the mental and physical health of an employee, the higher their levels of productivity.

An article on the Entrepreneur website quotes a survey carried out by Employee Benefit News that found that 31 percent of those questioned said that mental health issues were the top reason for a decreased level of productivity in the workplace.

And clearly, poor physical and mental health often results in absenteeism, which is estimated to cost the small employer up to $81 per employee every year with this figure increasing to up to $286 for bigger companies.


The latest buzzword in the office design world is “breakout zones." These exciting new ways of configuring your office space are a reaction to several decades of busy, noisy, open-plan layouts. 

Their purpose is to provide a separate area in your office for employees to work privately, carry out meetings or just relax.

 In short, its a space that is separate from the rest of your bustling workspace used to recharge or complete a specific task. It’s important to note how relevant the word “separate” is here. A breakout zone provides a demarcation between an employee’s regular desk job, and activity that can or should be carried out elsewhere.

These quiet zones must inspire in the employee a feeling that they can retreat – whether it’s to focus on an important project or to simply get away from the buzz of office life.

Let’s take a closer look at why they have become a hot new trend, how they can contribute to your company’s success, and how you can easily create them no matter what your resources.

Breakout Zones Add Needed Flexibility to Modern Office Layouts

There’s much research out there that tells us that open-plan offices are not compatible with employee health and wellness, and in fact drag productivity down.


Office relaxation rooms are the talk of companies in every industry. What started as only a few standout brand trying something trendy has grown into a movement with tons of data and research supporting it. 

Having a fun and relaxing office space for employees is incredibly valuable because it helps them decompress. It reduces stress levels, improves mood, lowers sick days, and helps employees bond and socialize.

Relaxation room ideas come in all shapes, sizes, and styles. If you need some help with choosing what kind of design you should implement in your office, you've come to the right place.

Download Zenbooth's Detailed Product Catalogs

How to Create the Ideal Office Relaxation Room

Relaxation rooms can look very different depending on multiple factors. Once you have some of the details figured out, you can begin planning their correct design. Some of these factors include your:

  • Office Layout (Open or Divided)
  • Industry
  • Budget 


Among all the up and coming trends in modern office layouts, the concept of a recharge room is one of the most exciting. This innovative idea is yielding higher rates of employee satisfaction and productivity.

But what is a recharge room exactly?

Get The Details Right When Adding Your Office's Recharge Room

An office recharge room is a space where employees can get away from the noise and anxiety of the workplace. While some employers think that a cluster of chairs in the corner of the office is enough, a recharge room really provides employees with a valuable opportunity to relax, stretch, meditate, and conduct conversations with their co-workers in peace.

This requires something more like a modular conference room, only not designated for work activities. There doesn't need to be collaboration style furniture inside it or standing desks - this is solely a zone for wellness.

Companies should understand that rooms like these are a big part of millennial style office design. It's common for people to feel tired and overwhelmed when they're working in the same space 40 hours a week. Simply having a place for them to step away from their desk can have a meaningful impact on their mood and productivity rate.


Modern businesses are always looking for that little something extra. In a busy world defined by increasing competition and demanding markets, how you work as well as your office environment could be the ultimate X factor. 

Over the last few decades, we have seen dramatic changes in how people complete tasks, with the layout of office environments more reflective of deeper business structures.

Download Zenbooth's Detailed Product Catalogs

From isolated cubicles and corporate hierarchies to open workspaces and collaboration, the workplace revolution is just getting started.

Office Challenges Eliminated By Activity-Based Working Floor Plans

Open office design plans have taken off, with large tech firms like Google and Apple leading the way. In a concerted effort to engage workers and improve work outcomes, forward-thinking companies have thought outside the box and knocked down walls, sometimes literally.


Creating an efficient workspace that boosts morale and raises productivity is about more than just style and appearances. Many comfort factors affect how a workplace can impede or promote health, mood, and the overall success of employees. 

Simple changes can make a world of difference. But employers need to know how to identify the problems in their own office. 

Download Zenbooth's Detailed Product Catalogs

Here are seven common attributes of a poor work environment and easy ways you can fix them.

1.Loud Offices Should Be A Thing of the Past

Excessive noise one of the most unpopular obstructions to maximizing employee productivity. 

Studies have shown that 58 percent of high-performance employees say they need a quieter work environment, 54 percent find their workplace too distracting, and 25 to 30 percent are dissatisfied with the noise level at work.


The simple, hard truth about open offices is that they aren’t agile or versatile. Nor do they provide an adequate level of privacy to employees. 

As many as 54% of high-performance employees say that an open office environment is “too distracting” and hampers their productivity. 

How can you address these issues without undertaking major renovation or restructuring work within the office? The answer is — add breakout spaces. According to Tina Rich, designer at Homepolish, “It’s just about having spaces to accompany different kinds of people or sizes of groups and also different activities. […] This helps allow you to have a bit of alone time if you need it.” 

And your employees do need alone time every now and again. 

How Huddle Spaces Address Open Office Issues