Workers in virtually all industries have experienced the pros and cons of open office layouts. This type of work environment surged in popularity over the last few decades, but businesses are realizing they need a change.
Here’s a look at why open offices are so prevalent today, why workers struggle with them, and how you can fix issues like lack of confidentiality by using meeting pods.
The Upside of Open Office Floor Plans
Open office layouts sit at the nexus of business efficiency, modern design, and budgetary concerns.
The absence of walls and formal offices means employees can collaborate more easily. Managers can see what employees are doing at all times.
In industries like technology, where creativity is king, letting employees brainstorm freely leads to innovation and therefore financial success. Interior design got in on the act by capitalizing on this trend, eliminating conventional furnishings.
Sofas replaced desks, and break spaces merged with workspaces so employees could gab about projects over coffee or pinball.
Other industries caught on to the financial advantages of open offices. With less construction and fewer furnishings, offices were cheap to create.
If a company moved, it was easy to take shared tables and minimal cubicles to a new location and make everything fit. Sounds great so far, right?
The Disadvantages of Open Offices: Disruption and Concern
Employees are free to talk about work projects at will, but this discussion can disturb nearby employees. Sometimes, personal chatter, encouraged by the freedom of the open office, adds to the noise.
Factor in the sounds of office machinery, elevators, and ringing phones, and employees are bombarded with what is essentially noise pollution all day.
There are visual disturbances, too, as people passing by move in and out of workers’ peripheral vision.
For employees working on high-focus tasks, this constant noise results in a lack of productivity. In fact, a study at Berlin’s Humboldt University demonstrated that it can take up to 23 minutes for employees to regain concentration after being disturbed.
Not only do these disruptions affect productivity, but they also can cause errors as well, all of which ultimately affect your company’s bottom line. And, of course, noise and distractions aren’t what you want when employees are on the phone with clients or wooing potential customers.
Absence of Confidentiality
There’s another cost to open offices that’s talked about less often but is equally problematic for employees at all levels: lack of confidentiality.
Where do you go in an open office when you need privacy? This issue is commonly experienced by:
- Managers wishing to talk discreetly among themselves
- Managers giving performance reviews or employee critiques
- Employees making calls to clients or contractors
- Employees meeting with clients or contractors
- Employees needing to call the doctor, a spouse, or a childcare provider
- Nursing mothers
- Sensitive employees bothered by noise and the “goldfish bowl” effect
Some business owners are willing to overlook this particular downside to open office layouts because the financial benefits are so great. But, are they really?
If employees are unhappy or stressed about their work environment, it has consequences that indirectly affect revenue, just like work distractions.
It’s been proven that people in stressful work environments take significantly more sick days. If the situation bothers them enough, they leave. An uncomfortable work atmosphere therefore affects your ability to retain and hire quality staff.
Your business could even be in violation of the law by not offering enough private space in your workplace. The federal Break Time for Nursing Mothers law dictates that accommodations must be provided for nursing moms to express milk at work.
This space cannot be a bathroom and must be a private lactation space. Does your open office satisfy this law?
An Easy Solution for Open Offices? Confidential Meeting Pods to the Rescue
If you’ve struggled with the open office disadvantages listed above, you may have thought about moving or renovating your workspace. But, these solutions are costly and highly disruptive.
Fortunately, there is another answer: confidential meeting pods. These pods, also known as “huddle rooms” or “office phone booths,” are taking the open office world by storm because they let business owners have their cake and eat it too, so to speak.
You can keep your open office layout and reap all its advantages, while installing confidential meeting pods to provide privacy and distraction-free work zones.
Uses for Confidential Meeting Pods
Offices that have adopted the meeting pod technology find them useful for multiple functions:
- Discreet meetings between managers and employees
- Meetings with clients or outside colleagues
- Phone calls to clients and business associates
- Brainstorming sessions and conversations with coworkers
- Small presentations or presentation practice
- Video conferencing and conferring with remote workers
- Employee training and onboarding
- Job candidate interviewing
- Employees working on high-focus tasks and needing quiet
- Short-term office visitors, like auditors
- Employees needing quick privacy for personal phone calls
- Nursing mothers
- Break time meditation or yoga
- Offering perks for busy employees, like massage chairs or manicures
These freestanding confidential meeting pods can be configured however you like. You can sign them out like conference room space without having to allocate a huge room for just a few people.
You can let employees use them freely as they’re available. And, you can combine multiple pods in different sizes to suit your business’s unique needs.
The Flexibility of Zenbooth
Zenbooth makes confidential meeting pods and has been at the forefront of this design boon. With three different models to choose from and features to accommodate common workplace requirements, there’s a Zenbooth for just about any situation.
Zenbooth Comfort Booth
This pod resembles a phone booth and is perfect for one or two people. You can sit or stand in this model, with the adjustable-height desk that’s ideal for a phone or a laptop.
Zenbooth Executive Booth XL
This model is a bit bigger than the Comfort Booth and is just right for two people. The Executive Booth XL is a popular choice for meetings between managers, employee performance reviews, and tasks requiring concentration, whether for a few hours or a few days. The 31-inch work surface can easily fit a couple of laptops and, like the Comfort Booth, is height adjustable.
Zenbooth Executive Room
The Executive Room is perfect when you have anywhere from two to six people needing to meet. This is a good option if you have a lot of brainstorming sessions or client presentations, and it’s also great to double as a meditation or nursing mom space.
It functions like a small conference room or privacy space, and you can position it anywhere you like in the office.
All Zenbooths are designed and outfitted with features you’ll appreciate:
- 3.5-inch thick acoustic walls of recycled cotton and denim that keep conversations private and noise out
- Echo-absorbing panels made of perforated aluminum
- Fast-charging USB outlets
- 15A 110v electrical outlets
- Grommets for data and telephone cables
- Ventilation controlled by an occupancy sensor for continual fresh air
- In-booth lighting
- Plexiglass ceiling to allow in more light from above
- Sturdy, attractive natural wood exteriors that are easy to clean and resist odors
- Self-closing aluminum door with a magnetic latch
- Low door threshold designed for accessibility with the ADA in mind
- Optional fire suppression element where fire code dictates (can be installed after ordering if necessary)
Zenbooth offers free shipping on all models and even provides free assembly for customers who purchase the larger Executive Room. The smaller models can be assembled by a few people with minimal tools in a day or less.
All you need is a nearby 110v three-prong electrical outlet as a power source for each booth.
With the fastest lead time in the office phone booth industry, Zenbooth ships quickly, with rush shipping available.
Your office could have the quiet and confidentiality you desire in just a few weeks. With a financing plan that lets your business make monthly payments, you don’t have to let your budget stand in the way of making your workspace more flexible.
Wanting their customers to be happy, Zenbooth offers free 30-day returns on their pods, although you’ll probably love yours so much you’ll want to order more! Zenbooth also offers a three-year warranty on all models.
Tips for Making Your Zenbooth More Comfy and Confidential
If you are purchasing a Zenbooth to provide more privacy and distraction-free space, here are a few final tips to help you get the most from your pod:
- Consider a Zenbooth Executive Room for maximum space and flexibility.
- For employee use, position the Zenbooth in a less busy area of the office, like a back corner.
- For visitor use, such as with auditors or client meetings, position the booth near the office entrance or waiting area.
- Turn your Zenbooth door away from traffic for high-focus users so they won’t be distracted by passersby.
- Furnish your executive room with an armchair and table for nursing moms.
- Add pillows and soft lighting for a meditation or break space.
- Use a roll-up shade or curtain over the window in the door to provide complete privacy for users.
If you want to find out more about how Zenbooth can be your solution to the open office problem, get in touch today. We’re here to answer all your questions and help you select the right models for your workspace.