Do you constantly feel like you’re juggling more than you can handle at work? Or find yourself unable to focus because there’s just too much going on around you? Well, you’re certainly not alone! As I write this my toddler is dancing to Disney music running in circles, so I certainly empathize with your struggle.

For many of us who have worked remotely since the spring, multi-tasking in the workplace has jumped to a whole new level during the COVID-19 pandemic. And now, as some companies start to transition employees back into the office using shared-work desks and spaces, it’s imperative for people to find a way to focus when they have important tasks to tackle. Enter… the office pod.

What Is An Office Pod?

An office pod – often referred to as a phone booth – is a self-contained unit that allow employees privacy in an otherwise open work environment.

Zenbooth, a popular company in the office pod market says the following about their units: “Regardless of size, the average office pod possesses sound dampening walls, ventilation fans, a custom desk, internal electrical and USB outlets, and three walls with a double pane glass door. In other words, all of the required features in an office desk and chair set, without the drawbacks of an open work environment.”

The office pod concept isn’t a new one, in fact major corporations like Microsoft, Google, L’Oreal, Samsung and Nike all hopped on the bandwagon prior to the onset of COVID-19. The pod company Framery boasts that 40% of all Forbes 100 companies use their product.

When marketing their office pods, Framery writes, “100% efficiency, zero disturbance creates happier workplaces.” One review from a Datadog employee reinforces the concept, “Framery pods have made our office 75% a happier workplace, because having to find a room, or deal with loud background noise, or sensitive data leakage concerns frustrates employees and makes them unhappy and hence unproductive.”

Poppinpod, another popular brand on the market says their booths are, “designed to offer peace and privacy in the open office, the PoppinPod office phone booth gives your team the power to choose the way they work.”


Pod Life, Is It Right For Your Office?

A 2019 CNBC article outlines some of the benefits of this unique office fixture. The article states, “Pods can provide a break from the togetherness. The personal cubicles are minimal in design, often decked out with a chair, table, outlets, skylight, glass door and soundproofed walls.”

Pods are available in all different sizes, giving the option for just one person to work privately or for a whole meeting to take place. The space can provide a location for a quick call, an area to work without distraction, or even a setting for a whole team to meet privately. In addition to the three previously mentioned companies, there are several others that produce pods, including; ROOM, hushoffice, NOOK, and TalkBox.

As you would expect, each company selling these pods has their own list of benefits. For instance, ROOM states that pods can provide 40% less room congestion and increase employee productivity by 75% with about 65% less of a traditional construction price tag.

NOOK says when used in workspace, education and events their product helps to:

  • Tackle social distancing & density issues
  • Lower stress levels & improve wellbeing
  • Promote Neurodiversity
  • Increase small-meeting volume
  • Add space flexibility
  • Cultivate engagement
  • Improve productivity

TalkBox promotes, “Adding a TalkBox into your open-office environment seamlessly supports your workers’ right to privacy while driving employee productivity and satisfaction.”


The Lasting Effect of Distraction

cartoon man at his desk being distracted by a mobile phone with a loudspeaker

The Wall Street Journal reports that “office workers are interrupted—or self-interrupt—roughly every three minutes.” We all know from experience that noise can be a major distractor in open workspaces. Research by University of California Irvine professor Gloria Mark found that after an initial interruption it can take an employee up to 23 minutes to return to the original task.

A 2017 BBC article references a University of Sydney professor who says, “nearly 50% of people with a completely open office floorplan, and nearly 60% of people in cubicles with low walls, are dissatisfied with their sound privacy. Only 16% of people in private offices said the same.”


Using Office Pods Post COVID-19

In the era of COVID-19, many companies are adapting their products, or better explaining how existing ones, can help to combat the spread of the virus. For instance, Talkbox promotes that their pods have germicidal lighting, writing, “Our UVC Germicidal Lighting kills COVID-19 to easily clean your booth before and after each use.”

business person carrying briefcase and face mask

A recently published article by Business Insider breaks down how ROOM is adapting their pods to tackle a post-pandemic work environment. ROOM announced a new line of products in August that Business Insiders says, “can help transform open offices into something more suitable for social distancing in 2020.” The article goes on to say, “The modular pods are like pop-up meeting rooms with extra ventilation, and ROOM is also offering a new analysis tool to give clients data on how office space is used, and how employees can safely return.”

Framery has put out an entire page of recommendations for using their product while tackling the virus. They write in part, “You can have the pods moved around to adapt to your changed needs. You can have your Framery pods placed so that they are only available to limited number of users, keeping a healthy distance. Place hand sanitizers and bleach wipes at entrance of pods to give people peace of mind.” In terms of cleaning the pod, “Framery pods can and should be cleaned efficiently on a regular basis. All materials of the pod can be cleaned with disinfection solution.” And regarding ventilation, the company says, “Our products take the air from the top of the pod and then the air inside is pushed down. When you enter a Framery pod, the fans engage at full capacity. Framery fans are always turning.”


Office Pods Prices

The price of a pod varies greatly depending on the size, features and brand. To give you an idea, Zenbooth says, “Our office phone booth prices range from $4,495-$15,995. The $15,995 models will fit two-six people inside them and function as a cost effective alternative to building a meeting room or redesigning your entire office layout.” Poppinpod, for example, offers pods ranging from $4,999 to $14,799.


Workplace Scheduling Tool

Smartway2 offers workplace scheduling for modern, agile and collaborative companies. The company can help you to better manage your office space and employees while saving time and money. In addition, Smartway2 can help you protect your workers as they return back to the office by helping to regulate and promote social distancing, sanitation and contact tracing.