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 Scientific Reasons Modern Work is So Distracting
But, much like the largest co-working company, the notion that open floor workspaces are more productive and accessible is false.
When we make ourselves available 24/7, the less mentally available we actually become. A Harvard study showed that after two Fortune 500 companies switched to open-office configurations, face to face interactions went down by 70%.
If we’re always accessible, we’re constantly trying to find uninterrupted time to focus on a task at hand. It’s like having your door always unlocked. It puts you in a constant state of hyper-awareness that someone could come in at any moment. And getting into a true flow-state is impossible when we’re being bombarded by unwanted questions, other people’s conversations, and outside noises.
In an episode of his popular podcast ‘The Ezra Klein Show’, the journalist gets into this with author Cal Newport (‘Deep Work’ and ‘A World Without Email’):
“We’re losing our ability to concentrate. These remarkable vistas of information that have been opened to us have also been polluted by endless distraction. And so, we’re not benefiting from any of this the way we thought we would. Instead of getting more done in less time, we feel like we have less time than ever and are never getting enough done.”
Newport takes things a step further. He discusses how our current way of working -- which he calls the ‘hyperactive hive mind’ -- doesn’t jive with how the human brain processes information. Most of us literally cannot multitask, even when we think we are. Our brains don’t allow us.
Instead, we’re just rapidly switching between objectives, which stops us from ever fully immersing ourselves into any given task.
Constant interruptions via slack, email, and all of our various messaging systems cut off cognition at the neck, because it literally takes up mental capacity. Quickly switching between tasks uses up oxygenated glucose in the brain, which makes us tired faster.
There’s a reason you might be drinking more caffeine as you bounce between inbox, slack and other messaging interfaces.
In addition to inefficiency, this way of working makes us sad, anxious and overwhelmed. We’re social creatures, hard-wired to want to please and communicate with our tribes and teams. When we can’t keep up with them, it depresses us. We get a hit of dopamine every time someone says our name or sends us a message.
It’s why the siren’s call of an unopened email or slack DM is so powerful. But once we open the message, the excitement dissipates, and we are left more depleted and distracted than before.
That’s why ‘asynchronous communication’ has become such a hot term in the last few years. It means less meetings, more to-do lists. As discussed here, asynchronous communication means checking in with your team via voice memo rather than phone call. In this state, an instant response is not only unnecessary, but not expected.
The studies continue to show employee stress levels and job satisfaction are correlated to office design. Coworkers continue to say that sharing space with multiple people, particularly fellow employees they do not know well or feel comfortable with, makes work harder to do.
This makes sense. There’s a reason we like to meet up with good friends to do work. There’s nothing more intimate than sharing space with someone while you each focus on individual tasks. If you’re in sync, you help each other concentrate. But if you’re not… you don’t. Maybe that’s why so many marriages ended during the pandemic.
The point is, sharing space with people is hard. And this isn’t news. According to the NYTimes, roughly 70% of US businesses have open floor plans, and construction is expensive. Design, renovation, plumbing, HVAC -- the costs add up quickly.
How Office Pod Furniture Makes Work Easier & More Enjoyable
That’s why the office pod is the perfect solution. There has been a swift and exponential rise in its popularity the last few years. Sales are up all around as we return to the world -- not just for offices, but for airports and other large gathering spaces.
Booths are the natural answer to our desperate need for focus and privacy. And employees are using them in droves. A top priority for Millennials is flexibility. The hybrid work model or office has become ever popular, especially now, and for good reason. Sitting in one spot for an entire day of work is not conducive to positive mental health or workflow.
We want to switch it up. Again, there’s a reason open floor plans were popular for so long -- sometimes sitting with someone while you work is the best place to be. Until it’s not. Having the office pod as an option for 15 minutes, an hour, or 3 hours is a truly special asset.
Also, there’s an egalitarianism to the pod -- which is another important factor for Millennials, reflected in the cultures of most start-ups and new businesses. For so long, true privacy was saved for those at the top -- managers and bosses with doors and corner offices — but phone-style booths are generally placed in common areas so anyone in need of a quiet moment can take it.
Exploring Office Pod Features
Not all models of office pods are the same. With Zenbooth, our sound-dampening technology ensures that your calls inside the booth are private, in addition to keeping you protected from external noise. The walls are made with mineral wool to provide acoustic insulation.
If you’re worried about sharing a small space with other people in the new era, most booths on the market come with ventilation in place. All of our Zenbooths have high-powered motion-activated ventilation systems which cycle new air into the pod every minute. Another reason to use it: you can escape your deskmate with that runny nose.
Most booths are also easy to clean. Our wood and glass surfaces, with few nooks and crannies, can be disinfected quickly and thoroughly.
When I first looked at a booth, my main worry was about feeling ‘boxed in’ or claustrophobic. But claustrophobia kicks in as a reaction to stimulus -- too many people talking in a confined space, anxiety about whether you can escape -- and booths have neither of these issues.
The sound-dampening walls give you a sense of calm, our skylight and glass door combat that ‘boxed in’ feeling, and you can, of course, leave whenever you want. Which may be never.
In terms of accessibility, Zenbooths’ adjustable desk feature makes sure short and tall employees feel comfortable inside the booths at all times. And every model of the booths feature wheelchair ramps, making them truly accessible to all employees.
What open offices lack in productivity, they make up for in design. There’s a reason Frank Lloyd Wright is credited as bringing them onto the scene.
An open workspace is warm, inviting and gives way for innovative, unique elements. Pods compliment these spaces well, and Zenbooth offers white and wood-finishes for our products — clean, simple design options that fit seamlessly into any office’s feng shui.
Office Pod Models for 1, 2 or Even 6 People
The customization options continue with multiple booth designs: the classic Solo, the Duo, and the Quad, which cater to different office needs. As the name describes, the Solo is perfect for getting work done alone. Take a phone call, write an article — I wish I was using one now -- close yourself off to the world and check those items off your to-do list.
The Duo is built for collaboration. Like the solo, it comes equipped with a desk (either standard or adjustable) and has enough space for two people to comfortably work together or asynchronously. Step in for a private one-on-one meeting, a small break-out session, or use it to spread out and get more work done on your own.
And if you want even more flexibility and customization, check out the Quad. Our newest model is a 7x7 space designed to be anything you want it to be. The Quad is a favorite among teachers — schools purchase them for classrooms because they’re the perfect size to teach lessons to groups of 4-6 students.
Host meetings without feeling cramped, do yoga and meditate, or simply build your own dream office. The Quad truly is a versatile space for you to be you.
Comparing Office Pod Costs and Competitor Prices
There are plenty of booths on the market, but Zenbooth is the most economic option without sacrificing style and functionality. None of our competitors offer free shipping, simple assembly, and features like skylight or an adjustable desk with USA manufacturing at our price points.
Plus, we use recyclable and locally-sourced materials and ship directly from our factory in Berkeley, California.
For example, the prices of our competitors PoppinPod and Pillar start at over 5K before add-ons. Skylights are not an option, nor do they offer ramp-access into their booths. PoppinPod also requires installation assistance, and Pillar’s shipping costs are based on location.
Room, though a little closer to our price at $4395, costs $450 per booth to ship, and does not offer adjustable desk or dimmable lighting.
Talkbox’s pods start at $3995, but recommend professional assembly ($550 or higher). And their ‘Double’, which is comparable to our Duo, starts at $11,995 while ours start at $8,995.
Zenbooths are designed for access and flexibility. From our prices and payment options, to our product and assembly, we’ve designed our pipeline to work with you and your business.
Change the Way You Work with a Zenbooth Office Pod
The future of work is about taking back our autonomy and creativity. It’s about flow-state and asynchronous communication. Multi-tasking is the past. Return to doing things intentionally, one thing at a time. Normalize the quiet. Your brain, blood pressure, and heart will thank you in the long run.
Our mission at Zenbooth is ease. To create a quiet space for every case. Contact us anytime at our website -- someone on our team will be ready to assist you with any lingering questions about our product, and help bring a Zenbooth to your business at the exact right moment.