Believe it or not, the open office was in vogue before cubicles. With it came the constant noise and lack of privacy that results from having no barriers or partitions.
Cubicles were the remedy to the open office, but with their own drawbacks: a lack of sunlight and the drabness of grey cubicle walls became associated with communication problems between employees that would lead to unstable businesses.
Open offices made a comeback two decades ago for startups who wanted to participate in the new business model, with some company CEOs not even having private offices. It was an attempt to bring employees together for collaboration and offered a modern design with an affordable upfront cost.
The popular belief was that the chaos would be positive and promote creativity. But new does not necessarily mean effective. Research has found that employees in such spaces experience negative effects on their well-being and productivity.
Here are facts about the downsides of open offices and how our portable soundproof office pods can provide a truly all-in-one solution that fits everyone.
Reduction of Outside Noise
The ability to hear other employees' conversations and noises results in interruptions and distractions. A large open office has a typical noise level of 50 decibels, which is comparable to typing on a keyboard and almost enough to wake someone up from sleep.
Statistics confirm that the noise causes employees to lose their focus and have trouble getting back to their tasks quickly and fully. Berlin’s Humboldt University showed it could take up to 23 minutes to restore focus after an interruption.
Such delays and frustrations are huge factors in meeting project deadlines, employee harmony, and business success. The open office is initially cheap but can cost employers up to three times as much over the long term.
A soundproof office pod prevents other employees from hearing you at all while you're inside it, while you will hear next to nothing of what's going on outside.
Increase in Personal & Group Privacy
Physical privacy also translates to psychological privacy. Besides being able to see and hear many coworkers in an open office, employees (especially introverts) feel that their coworkers can see and watch them.
Those feelings of self-consciousness and anxiety hinder communication between employees and clients, small groups of employees, and employees on their personal phone calls.
What about conference rooms? An open office with a few conference rooms works well for large group collaboration, but when smaller groups need quiet, conference rooms are not enough; not only are they limited in quantity as well as their design, but they cannot be moved.
Soundproof office pods offer the physical privacy your employees need to complete their tasks as well as participate in small group meetings.
Some employees already enter the open office workspace with a level of hearing impairment, so they are at a disadvantage from the start.
Employees who are unable to hear well have issues being productive. It's also a fact that chronically high noise levels cause hearing loss over time for anyone.
Employees also face other risks from the open office's lack of partitions and soundproofing material.
They can experience health issues like high blood pressure, irritability, and sleep problems by working in the stressful environment of the open office.
Such issues weaken the immune system and cause illness, and sick employees are much less productive than their healthy counterparts. In fact, open-office employees take up to 62% more sick days.
An open office workspace also has immediate effects on workplace productivity by hindering employees' ability to recall information, analyze information, and even do basic arithmetic. Their frustration at being unable to perform at their best is real:
- 58% of high-performance employees say they need more quiet at work
- 54% of high-performance employees find their workplace too distracting
- 25-30% of open office employees are dissatisfied with the level of workplace noise
Another issue with the open office model is the possibility of employees socializing too much rather than being productive.
With only 10% of employees thinking "ease of interaction" with their coworkers is actually a problem, it's clear that there's not a large lack of communication and if there is, it's not because of an enclosed workspace.
While the new, young, or extroverted employees might do okay in an open office, the seniors, high-performing employees, creators, and introverts suffer in their performance.
That leads to higher turnover rates as work dissatisfaction increases. Soundproof office pods allow all your employees to be as productive as possible, whether as individuals or small groups.
Encouragement of Creativity
Creativity is one of the essential traits of successful businesses, especially for startup founders and entrepreneurs. Many employees in creative fields can attest that quiet and solitude are crucial to their concentration and their ability to come up with new concepts.
Imagine what it's like to forget about something you were about to say or write down because you were interrupted or distracted, and apply that to the office workplace.
Creativity is spontaneous and needs to be allowed to flow freely. It's not that there's necessarily a lack of creative employees, but open offices discourage them.
Some employees might attempt to block out noises by listening to music, which actually impairs their ability to complete verbal creative tasks. Using soundproof office pods gives creative employees the quiet and solitude they need to practice their talent.
Zenbooth: A Compromise for the Open Office
The negative perception of enclosed workspaces is an exaggerated stereotype; they aren't that bad. But is the only solution to return to cubicles, which have (in extreme cases) sometimes been likened to sweatshops and prisons? Not anymore.
Employers need a remedy that gives them and their employees the space to get away from the noise and get work done without having to give up or drastically change an existing open office space: Enter Zenbooths portable soundproof office pods and all that they have to offer.
The most important aspect of our Zenbooths is their soundproof construction: The exterior and interior walls are made from high-grade, pre-finished, recycled maple, while the insulation is a 3.5-inch thick layer of cotton and recycled denim.
They combine for a phone booth structure that reduces noise by 40 decibels. It nearly completely eliminates your ability to hear outside noise & nobody can hear you while you're in the booth.
If it's being able to accommodate different numbers of employees you're worried about, our office pods are a perfect solution. The Comfort Booth, Executive Booth, and Executive Room XL provide comfortable space for 1-2, 2-3, and 4-6 people, respectively.
They are all designed according to the American Disabilities Act and fire compliance so that the door is large enough for accessibility and the fire alarm can be visible through the door and ceiling.
All are easy to clean and have sensor-activated ventilation, so there's no issue of heat or trapped odors. Plus there are telephone cables and power outlets for convenience. The Comfort Booth and Executive Booth XL have electric height-adjustable desks.
Are you concerned about sunlight? You can enjoy a full skylight with Zenbooths so you won't have to miss out on any natural lighting.
We constructed our office pods to make them durable, yet lightweight enough to move them anywhere. Maple is a hardwood and resists abrasion.
The ceiling is made of high-grade safety Plexi-glass. The door (the most-used part) is made from locally-sourced high-grade aluminum with dual pane tempered glass. And the inside is spacious enough to be comfortable.
Even so, the phone booth structure is not unwieldy and ships quickly. We also offer discounts on multiple purchases.
The return to the open office has spelled bad news for many businesses. But you're not stuck with such a workspace. Instead you can adapt it for concentration and multitasking with the use of Zenbooths.
In fact, some of the most successful national brands have combined an open office with our portable soundproof pods. To learn more about how Zenbooth can give your business the boost in productivity it needs, contact us here.