Designing Offices for Productivity With Private, Distraction Free Phone Booths

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. 

Colloquially, these offices were often called “bullpens.”

Open office setups had an overriding goal in mind that dovetailed well with practicality. Advocates for the scheme claimed that without walls in place, workers could share ideas more easily. Instead of having to travel to an office, spontaneous sharing would make development more efficient and effective.

Experts also predicted that open spaces would create effective egalitarianism, breaking barriers between staff and supervisors.

Practically, open offices also cost much less than traditional, divided workspaces. Fewer walls with less wiring and other costs meant less spent on overhead. Companies saw it as a win-win and invested heavily. By the turn of the century, four out of five offices relied on this idea in some form.

This would result in more innovation and also productivity with less cost, or so many people thought.

Open Office Design Means Less Productivity

Recent studies cited by Harvard Business Review indicated that the prime expectation, that open offices would increase productivity, did not come to fruition. In fact, the opposite result has occurred. 

Advocates claimed that open offices would facilitate communication. Breaking barriers would make communication convenient.Instead, the most recent research indicates that face to face interactions dropped in some firms by as much as 70 percent. 

Staff were less likely to desire interaction, choosing instead to use digital communication such as messaging and email. They also developed remarkable avoidance skills, such as acting busy, not making eye contact, and other tactics designed to decrease the chance of an unwanted conversation.

Part of the reason for decreasing direct communication lies in the open office’s biggest challenge: distractions. Respectful colleagues try to avoid interrupting work or other conversations, turning instead to the less intrusive digital message. This replaced the knock at the office door and restored control over spontaneous communication.

Distractions, however, continue to serve as a serious problem on their own for most workers. Studies show that as many as three out of four office workers who experience them despise the open office. The two biggest complaints come from concerns about lack of privacy and also the inability to maintain concentration.

On average, studies have shown that distraction from focused work does not get fully restored until after over 20 minutes, if at all. When staff must focus to figure out problems or complete projects, losing 20 minutes after every distraction can take a serious toll on productivity. Lost hours can add up and cost the organization essential time and effort.

Almost all workers complain about distractions in the office. Half blame difficulty in concentrating on phone calls or projects as a major problem. Loud conversations serve as a chief source of complaint, but office machine noises and other sounds combine into a cacophony that prevents focus.

Visual distractions have a strong, if less powerful, impact. Even more concerning than the lack of productivity is research showing that open offices may also affect employee health.

Open Office's Proven Negative Effects On Employee Health

Constant exposure to the types of noise typical of an office can create significant health problems and even affect work attendance.

A review of 15 relatively recent studies shows that none of them supported the idea of the open office as beneficial. They concluded that “open-plan office space is not beneficial to employees' health, with consistent findings of deleterious effects on staff health, wellbeing and productivity.” 

Research from Denmark found that open offices produced 62 percent more sick days than traditional plans.

Research revealed both short and long term health problems. Open offices encourage the faster spread of viruses and other communicable pathogens that can create sickness. Even worse, the effects of constant noise and distraction during work tended to raise stress, anxiety, blood pressure and other chronic problems.

Clearly, open office spaces cause employee health issues, yet most companies do not have the resources to fully retrofit their design and return them to a traditional layout.

Fortunately, Zenbooth provides a less costly and more effective solution to the problems of privacy and output in open offices.

Use Zenbooth to Design Your Office for Productivity

As reported in the New York Times, Zenbooth offers a range of products designed to restore privacy and enhance worker focus when needed.

The media outlet Gizmodo had experienced serious problems with its own open office concept. Reporters struggled to keep attention on phone calls, writing, and other important workplace tasks.

They first purchased the Zenbooth Solo. Modeled on the old-style phone booth, it provides an individual with ample privacy to make telephone calls or engage in office work. Volkswagen, Capital One, Lyft, and many others also invested in Zenbooth's private booths that allow workers an opportunity to get away from the chaos.

With the individual booths so popular, Gizmodo also invested in a Duo. This has space for two workers for collaboration, discussion or conference calls. Quiet spaces allow for more substantial conversations, especially those of a confidential business, HR, or personal nature.

For those offices that need larger meeting spaces, Zenbooth offers the Quad. It can seat four to six employees comfortably and quietly. It perfectly fits the need for small meeting and collaboration spaces.

All Zenbooth products are constructed of sturdy American grown maple. They also employ whisper-soft doors, a quiet fan and a design that eliminates almost all typical office noises. Manufactured in California, these products are considered among the best-performing products of their type on the market. 

Their convenient design means that most can assemble these products in about an hour. 

Office Booths and Conference Rooms Meet the Needs of Today’s Office Layout Challenges

Zenbooth products have enhanced office layouts for several years now. Design trends going into 2020 have shown that the versatility and look of their booths lend themselves to the dynamics and aesthetics of modern offices.

Many of the newest offices embrace the idea of diverse spaces and flexibility.They create both collaborative and private environments for different types of work.

Zenbooth’s own versatility falls right in line with design expectations. Also, moving the Zenbooth only requires disassembly and reassembly, both of which should take around an hour to complete.

Wood has also made a comeback in office aesthetics, replacing drywall. Not only does wood provide a more sturdy and attractive surface, but sustainably sourced wood also has a lower environmental impact than other products. Since much of the Zenbooth uses responsibly sourced maple in its construction, it meets and often exceeds the expectations of modern designers.

Start Designing Your Office for Productivity

Zenbooth provides your workspace a chance to improve productivity and worker health through privacy. Have questions about our products? Call, message, or email us today to learn more. Our friendly staff will be happy to answer any that you have.

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