By now, most people who follow office management trends and studies understand that the open office concept has failed. However, offices that rely on cubicles that do not fully reduce or eliminate noise, have also proven in many cases to hurt both staff morale and overall productivity.
When companies start see how it hurts their bottom line, they'll look to make changes.
Staff seeking privacy would love to go back to the good old days of established offices. Unfortunately, companies that invested large sums into the open office do not want to invest even more on a complete reversal.
Luckily, Zenbooth offers multiple cost-effective office pods for businesses to restore private workspaces. These will reduce distractions and likely make your workforce more productive and even healthier.
Why Do We Need Cubicle Alternatives?
A designer for the home furnishings company, Herman Miller, introduced what was originally sold as the "action office" in 1964. This came about in response to the "bullpen" style configurations popular in newsrooms, police stations, and other organizations of the time. The concept languished until the late 1960s, when a new tax law spurred their use.
Legislation in 1968 was designed to help business kickstart the cubicle movement. While businesses could only count traditional office space depreciation after 39.5 years, they could do the same with cubicles after seven.
The IRS considered cubicles to be furniture instead of office space and thus gave birth to a movement. Businesses could save on taxes and every organization saw a way to cut physical overhead costs.
By the 21st century, the vast majority of American offices had embraced either cubicles or the open office concept that lacked walls altogether. According to Business Insider, studies show that the cubicle design and the open office prove equally distracting and frustrating for office workers.
While few companies can afford to return to the drawing board and build traditional offices, some companies have found that portable booths and conference rooms can help to provide the private spaces necessary for workers to perform or conduct meetings.
Studies Reveal Why Staff Production Falls, Cubicle Alternatives Can Help
Distractions serve as the key enemy of productivity in an office filled with noise. One of the main sources of distraction? Few barriers to block noise. A Humboldt University study revealed that once a person's concentration was interrupted, it took an average of 23 minutes to restore their thought process and get back on track.
Other studies showed that over half of office employees found their place of work “too distracting.”
Another source of distraction actually comes from efforts to reduce distractions. Some companies pipe in music to drown out conversation. That in itself can grow into an even worse problem for those who have different tastes or dislike music altogether.
Meanwhile, only one out of ten, regardless of office structure, said “ease of interaction” posed a problem.
Offices with no private work areas actually create unintentional discrimination against very capable intellects who tend to shy away from continual social contact. One pundit called open offices “hell for introverts.”
Some of humanity’s greatest geniuses were introverts who preferred quiet office spaces and privacy. Open offices with no respite from the noise push away some who might make great contributions, if given a little peace and quiet.
According to a Psychology Today article on cubicles and their impact on the psyche, human beings' prehistoric instincts help to determine where and how people feel secure. Experts say that people instinctively prefer places that seem to provide shelter and security.
While open offices do hurt workers the most because they expose people to all manners of distraction, cubicles do little to help reduce the problems.
Places that seem to provide refuge unconsciously make people feel more comfortable while those denying the image or illusion of shelter produce feelings of discomfort. The modern office fails workers because it provides no refuge and exposes people to overstimulation through the entire work day. Experts call the resulting anxiety and its symptoms "attention fatigue."
Office Cubicle Alternatives: Remove More Than Half The Problem
Visual distractions do contribute to the total distraction problem in companies that embraced the wall free open office concept. Almost any unusual movement or flash of light can pull eyes away from work and break concentration. Even the normal flurry of office activity can pull a mind away from important tasks and disrupt productivity.
This has led many companies to explore the use of cubicles as a way to isolate employees somewhat and prevent concentration breaking distractions.
Cubicles, however, only reduce visual distractions. As the 1990s comedy Office Space illustrated, noise can cause even more problems than visual distractions. One scene from that film presented an employee driven to agitation by cubicle neighbors listening to their radio and even answering the phone. Even efforts to drown out the cacophony, such as using earphones, will eventually cause hearing damage.
Realizing this, many companies and other organizations have finally figured out that private spaces for work, compared to cubicles, increase both morale and productivity.
Cubicles may provide breaks from visual distractions while creating some privacy and personal space barriers, but they accomplish little in terms of helping workers keep focus.
Office Phone Booths And Office Pods: A Cost-Effective Alternative to Cubicles
Zenbooth provides a number of different ways for offices to help provide private and quiet spaces for employees to work
First, Zenbooth offers a 21st-century version of the phone booth. Made of high-quality materials, Zenbooths provide maximum quiet with minimal space requirements. Each booth has two electrical and two USB outlets, shatterproof glass, quiet enhancing technology, and silent interior fans. Zenbooths block up to 40 decibels of intrusive noise.
The Comfort Booth offers a perfect space for phone calls requiring privacy or short-term work needs.
Zenbooth also offers Executive Booths that can serve as either mini-conference rooms or offices. Executive Booths create space for meetings or discussions deemed confidential. These could include business strategies, personnel decisions, or discussions of medical issues. Anything that would expose the company to damage or liability if overheard could be safely discussed in the comfort of the executive booth.
Like the Comfort Booth, the Executive Booth has an easy to assemble, disassemble, and move design. It offers dimensions of 84.5 in x 82 in x 41 in, enough to fit two people seated comfortably and also contains two electrical and USB outlets.
Of course, the Zenbooth Executive Booth also serves as another perfect space to concentrate and escape the noise of the office. It has plenty of room for long-term work sessions that require the kind of concentration impossible in an open office.
Private Workspaces vs Cubicles - It's No Contest
Studies show that offices without private work areas have a serious degenerative effect on happiness, productivity, and even worker health. Even extroverted and social employees sometimes need time in a quiet space to concentrate on important assignments. The cubicle concept fails to provide the proper space for work that requires concentration.
In some cases, companies have discovered that cubicle dominated spaces have actually created more costs than were initially saved by embracing the idea.
Now is the time for companies and other organizations with open plan office designs to explore adding quiet spaces in the form of Zenbooth Comfort or Executive Booths. They give individual staff quiet time to concentrate on work, to make important phones calls, or to hold confidential discussions.
Contact Zenbooth today to discuss ways to address office noise and privacy problems.