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Phone Booths Offer Privacy Solution in Open Office Designs

By Greg Zimmerman Facilities Management
phone booth open office

For introverts, open office plans can be a waking nightmare. People are always stopping by to chat and the constant din of noise makes them want to curl up and hide under their workspaces. Facility managers’ jobs are to make space work best for all occupants to be productive. So they must consider introverts’ needs to get away from it all for a bit.

At the recent NeoCon show in Chicago, several vendors were exhibiting a new solution to the privacy problem: a phone booth. The phone booths offer a space to do heads down work in a quiet, secluded spot. They allow workers a more relaxing environment to get away from the rest of the office, make a phone call, or simply take a few deep breaths. They offer a degree of flexibility – the key to making any open office successful, as the cover story for the June issue of Building Operating Management points out.

The phone booths are amazingly effective, according to a Chicago Tribune article, quoting one Chicago company that saw an increase in productivity of 30 to 40 percent since installing them.

The irony of the phone booth solution is that it’s the youngest workers in the office who seem to like them best. Members of Generation Z now entering the work force have pushed back most against the lack of privacy in open office space. And so while the phone booth is an elegant solution for privacy, it’s also is design element probably more familiar to their parents and more a source of novelty to them.

The phone booths are also a good alternative to the traditional conference room, because the conference room tends to be too large for just one person – who might still be interrupted by other occupants needing the room for actual meetings. Again, flexibility is the key: Facility managers must do all they can to ensure open office plans include a variety of elements for a variety of types of workers and work.

Greg Zimmerman is executive editor of Building Operating Management. Read his cover story on how buildings are tackling climate change.


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