Unlike newly trending office pods, the modern concept of the work place layout stretches back well into the 20th-century, and – from a design standpoint – has been relatively unchanged.
Although certain forms of technology such as desktop computers and wireless headsets have replaced magnetic-card typewriters and rotary telephones, the overall layout of an office space has remained roughly the same.
Now, as was the case during the 1960s, workers sit around a series of clustered desks in an “open air”-style environment. However, a novel innovation is poised to radically shift the ergonomics of office space planning, while also boosting employee productivity, health, and happiness. That revolutionary innovation is the office pod concept.
The Risks Related to an Open Office System & The Need for Office Pods
Before we address the specifics of what an office pod is, it would be best to overview the myriad features and disadvantages of an open office setup.
Granted, open environments are easy for workers to maneuver through the office and allow for easy middle management supervision, but these are at best marginal benefits.
First, a mere 10 percent of office employees consistently report that “ease of interaction” with fellow employees is a serious concern to them.
Second, an open setup may lead to obsessive observation of employees by management, rather than an appropriate amount of supervision. In addition to being a waste of a manager's time, this over-supervision can make employees feel crowded and be a source of distraction. Such distractions can severely sap productivity and reduce company revenue.
In other words, the few advantages of an open office layout are at best superfluous.
Moving on, aside from distraction by a supervisor, an open office setting produces an offsetting amount of persistent background noise. Ringing phones, work-related dialogue, casual chatter, assorted office shuffle, and other sources of clamor contribute to an ongoing cacophony which commonly distracts workers.
In fact, Alan Hedge, workplace design expert from Cornell University, has reported that 74 percent of office workers state that they are confronted by “many” sources of distraction due to office noise.
Furthermore, 58% of high performing workers report that they would like a quieter work environment and 54% of those same type of employees believe that their workplace is too distracting. The average office worker also spends 54% of their time focusing on solo tasks, not group projects.
Besides being a source of workplace distraction, noise in an open office setting can have severe health effects. For instance, workplace noise can cause temporary or even permanent Prolonged exposure to noise can even promote chronic fatigue, the onset of hypertension, atherosclerosis, and even cardiovascular imbalances.
In addition to noise, alterations in lighting, fluctuation or uncomfortable temperatures, and visual distraction can also be a contributing factor to lost worker productivity. that open offices act as an impediment to productive employee communication since certain individuals may feel self-conscious about others hearing their conversation.
In addition to ongoing background noise and lighting, a persistent problem common to open office settings is the diffusion of disease. Between microbes being passed through the air, plus those exchanged on commonly touched surfaces, the average office is a veritable incubator for pestilence.
In fact, disease is so pervasive in the contemporary office setting that common afflictions – those being the cold, flu, upset stomach, and headache – Further, office workers in a typical open setting take up to 62% more sick days than those in competing office setups.
In summary, whether it be due to lost focus as a result of reduced employee attention, or entire days lost due to calling in ill, a traditional office setting is not the optimal environment to maximize worker productivity.
Office Pods Beat Traditional Solutions to Poor Office Settings
Although there have been attempts at mitigating some of the problems, open office environments present nothing which truly tackles the issue.
Office separators such as office partitions or entire cubicle networks may cut down on the effects of distracting visuals marginally, but the issue of noise and the potential spread of illness is still a constant.
What's worse, office space separators like cubicles in some ways are worse for worker production than a completely open office environment. According to a report in The Atlantic, working in an environment comprised of miniature barriers on a psychological level does not at all promote a worker's mental welfare, let alone address the challenges of an open office environment.
While the industrialization of product manufacture has immeasurably improved human well-being, applying an industrial, uniform aesthetic to an office place is not at all conducive to worker productivity.
Of course, modern pop culture has relegated an occupation in a cubicle to the cliché, albeit somewhat macabre, punchline category – the manifestation of life in a dead end corporate position surrounded by depressing predictability and sterility.
There is only one viable solution to the problems presented by open and semi-open offices: the office pod system.
So, What Makes an Office Pod Design Unique?
Being a radical departure from the original office design, office pods are almost entirely self-contained booths which shield the worker(s) from the clamor, contamination, and general ambient chaos rife in traditional office settings.
Regardless of size, the average office pod possesses sound dampening walls, ventilation fans, a custom desk, internal electrical and USB outlets, and three walls with a double pane glass door. In other words, all of the required features in an office desk and chair set, without the drawbacks of an open work environment.
In order to keep the unit self-contained, each model comes with a 15-foot long power cord. That way, each portable office booth can be placed virtually anywhere in a work setting with only the minimal number of cables.
This means that floor clutter in the form of wires and power strips is markedly reduced compared to what a typical office setup would require. This allows for incredible flexibility with respect to office organization, which normally would be difficult in a typical open office setting.
As an added bonus, office pods are also eco-friendly, since they possess walls which are composed primarily out of recycled and renewable material.
What is the Best Office Pod Design?
An office pod's walls - when built correctly with the right insulation - shield the user from ambient noise and distracting imagery outside of the unit, so a worker can more easily focus on his or her work.
Furthermore, a worker can tailor his or her environment to suit their taste and maximize productivity. Whether that means the presence or absence of music or customization of their pod's temperature or lighting, it's up to them.
Plus, since office booths contain ventilation fans, workers are protected from infectious microbes to a degree.
The modular customization of office pods highlights another benefit they have over standard open office setups: the former allows for the expression of individuality. Individualism, properly expressed in a professional setting, can With office pods, this boost in creativity can be enhanced, not only because of physiological, but psychological reasons as well.
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