The growth of Agile (or Smart) Working was already creating a demand for imaginative furniture long before Covid brought Hybrid Working into focus. After the first headlong rush into open plan working (to encourage Communication and Collaboration), it became apparent that there was a need for furniture to effectively create small ‘rooms’ within the open space. These provide flexible meeting areas and concentration spaces with greater adaptability and lower cost than altering the building structure.
The move to Hybrid Office layouts has accelerated the development of several concepts to ensure variety and flexibility.
There is an amusing irony in getting people back from working alone at home and then offering them a Phone Box in which to facilitate workplace isolation! However, one of the main drivers of increased phone box use is that, without them, employers find too many individuals book meeting rooms for sole occupancy. Whilst employers encourage staff back to the workplace for meetings, workshops and collaboration tasks, many people have noticed that they are more distracted by general open plan noise than they were before homeworking. In order to cope, they seek solitary space when they need to focus, make confidential phone calls or attend a Teams or Zoom virtual meeting.
Phone boxes can be specified with sit, stand or height-adjustable settings. Other features include PIR-operated LED lighting, air circulation fans and integrated sockets for mains, USB, HDMI, VGA and charging connectivity.
They are an essential facilitator of Concentration and Contemplation activities in the office.
Flexibility and futureproofing are key elements of any organisation’s thinking in a post-pandemic world. Since nobody can say confidently that they know how their people will work in the
long-term future, everyone is in a state of flux and experimentation. One good way to accommodate this uncertainty with minimum risk and maximum agility is to incorporate pods where once there might have been permanent offices.
Pods are modular in design so can be extended and adapted according to requirement. They can incorporate every technology need and, within reason, can be located anywhere on the office floor plate. They can be used as individual offices, meeting rooms, training facilities, break-out areas, relaxation zones and many other applications.
Small meetings and conversations (2-4 people) that might once have been conducted around a group of desks or in a meeting room are well suited to the booth environment. Again, their use provides an employer with the agility to redesign and reconfigure the floor plate. Depending on the seat back height, varying levels of acoustic comfort are achievable but all will reduce the hubbub of the open plan office. Some even have a ceiling over the bench to enhance acoustic benefit even more.
Typically, a booth will include a central table but additional features might include mains socket and USB connectors for laptop and phone charging or a large monitor and video conferencing connectivity.
The naturally informal design creates a different ambiance from a typical meeting room and therefore facilitates a different style of interaction.