Open offices — whereby employees are seated in an open floor setting with no barriers to separate them from their colleagues — have been extensively studied in the last decade.
Because of their inherent openness, there is a seemingly intuitive logic that is continuing to damage employees’ ability to work and their long-term health.
The assumption was that open offices were ideally suited to promote an active exchange of ideas.
What many companies don’t realize is that, because of this openness and lack of barriers, open offices don't offer privacy and hamper productivity. Filled with noises and distractions, they take away from employees the ability to concentrate on their tasks and do their work effectively.
Not to mention that open offices reduce face-to-face interactions by 70 percent, which defeats their original purpose.
The solution? Adding private spaces throughout the office with modular conference rooms.
What Are Modular Conference Rooms?
Modular conference rooms help to mitigate the shortcomings of open offices by introducing an element of seclusion into your open floor plan. At the same time, they have the benefit of being lightweight, cost-effective, and easy to implement.
Modular conference rooms offer a viable alternative to conventional build-in conference areas. They create a dedicated space for brainstorming and problem-solving sessions, business and employee meetings, and group sessions.
Furthermore, they can be constructed off-site and assembled at your office location, which is an especially attractive proposition for businesses that rent office spaces and that might not be able to carry out structural renovations.
In addition, modular conference rooms are compact, self-contained, and soundproof — perfect spaces where teams can pop into for meetings, conference calls, and distraction-free productivity sessions.
If you’re considering implementing modular conference rooms into your open office, here are the benefits you can expect for both your employees and the company.
Allowing Employees to Find Their “Flow”
The term “flow” was first coined by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. According to Steven Kotler, author of The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance, flow describes “an optimal state of consciousness when you feel and perform your best.”
In other words, flow refers to those moments of total attention and absorption, when your focus on the task is such that everything else around you disappears.
With the typical noise and distractions found in an open office, it’s no surprise that employees struggle to find their elusive flow and get work done effectively. This is where modular conference rooms come in.
While they’re designed to accommodate teams of up to 6 people, they’re equally appropriate for individual employees looking for isolation to do some quiet, focused work.
Modular conference rooms are soundproof and equipped with all the bells and whistles, including a small desk, media ports, and power outlets.
Replacing Standard Conference Rooms
Research by analyst firm Frost & Sullivan indicates that 75% of all meetings in large conference rooms are among just three to four people. The same is confirmed by many companies struggling with a lack of space or amenities to allow teams to meet and collaborate efficiently — and Techstar is a case in point.
According to the company’s VP of education, Zach Nies, Techstar has struggled with what he terms, 'people squatting on conference rooms.'
"We have this massive conference room and frequently there will be just one person in there on the phone… That is definitely a challenge,” says Nies.
If you find it difficult to create and outfit multiple standard conference rooms, then a viable and effective alternative is installing modular conference rooms instead.
Greater Space Efficiency and Flexibility
For many companies, the problems of open offices may appear incredibly difficult — if not downright impossible — to address. That’s because introducing private meeting spaces would likely be practical only through structural renovations.
This would disrupt work and negatively impact your bottom line. Not to mention the noise pollution and cost that an office renovation would cause.
And if you’re renting an office, then renovating your space won’t be an option anyway.
So how do you go about creating private and meeting spaces without undertaking renovations? The answer is simple — by implementing modular conference rooms. Unlike building out a new part of your office or renovating existing space, modular conference rooms are budget-friendly and can take as little as one hour to install.
Another benefit of modular offices is that they allow companies to transform under-utilized areas of the workplace into spaces that facilitate productivity, thus making more effective use of their costly real estate.
The Zenbooth meeting booths are available in two dimensions. At 84 x 46.5 and 92.75 x 92.75 inches respectively, these booths are ideally suited as an alternative to standard conference rooms and can be installed anywhere in your office.
You also have the option to assemble them yourself or have them assembled by a Zenbooth specialist at your location.
Lyft, one of Zenbooth’s biggest customers, reportedly has 35-40 booths at their facilities, illustrating their flexibility and convenience in the modern workplace.
Improving Employees’ Health and Well-Being
Open office environments have been criticized for their negative impact on employees’ health. Did you know that an uncovered cough or sneeze can create a spray of up to 40,000 disease-ridden droplets traveling a distance of up to 26 feet at speeds of 200mph? This means that being in the same room as — and often in close proximity to — an ill colleague can quickly get your other employees sick.
A study published in 2011 found that employees working in open offices took 62 percent more sick days. Another 2014 study also suggests that those working in open offices took significantly more short-term sick leave compared to those working in private offices.
But it isn’t just the physical health of employees that can suffer — their mental health, too, is prone to deterioration in an open office environment. About 50% of the population counts more introverts than extroverts, with about a half of those being very introverted.
Whereas extroverts might like the increased social interactions in an open office, introverts tend to feel anxious and mentally exhausted by the constant and inescapable presence of people.
Because introverted people are already more susceptible to anxiety, they’re also more likely to have panic attacks or other stress-related illnesses.
Modular conference rooms address these concerns by offering private spaces where both individuals and teams can go for some quiet time away from the buzz of the office.
Essentially, they can function as workplace wellness rooms.
They can also help to reduce the risk of illness in the workplace, keeping employees healthy and happy in the long term.
Start Using Modular Conference Rooms Today
Interested in how a Zenbooth might benefit your open office? We're here to help. With two office booths that also double as modular conference spaces, you’ll be able to add privacy throughout the office with minimum effort.