Office pods have become more and more popular, enjoyed by employees and companies alike — with good reason. The pods serve a purpose and fill a gap many companies weren't aware they had.
Pods can be refined to optimize productivity, efficiency, and the office experience. They’re designed to provide the quiet, more private workspaces that most modern offices lack. Need to practice your presentation? No problem. Do you have to make a personal phone call? No worries. Have to avoid your colleagues to get some work done? Office pods have your back.
Pods are compact, semi-private workspaces that are available to employees for individual workspaces, one-on-one meetings, and huddle collaboration. Their uses are many, covering everything from personal offices to quiet rooms for joining conference calls.
The benefits of office pods
A 2019 study found that the average conference room is occupied by only one person 36% of the time. Furthermore, these rooms are occupied by two to four people 40% of the time. Ultimately, most large meeting rooms are underused, booked well under capacity 76% of the time. With three-quarters of meetings hosting fewer than four people, office pods are designed to bridge this gap, offering practical meeting spaces for the majority of onsite meetings.
Experts say 70% of companies run on some sort of open office floor plan. As with any office model, open plans have their share of shortcomings. Open office designs can be hard on employees, raising their stress and anxiety levels with the bustling work environment. Open spaces are particularly inhibiting to introverts, who can feel unsettled in loud, busy areas long term. This discomfort leads to reduced employee satisfaction and high turnover rates. Also, with so many employees working from home some of the work week, returning to a busy office can be overwhelming. Office pods offer a getaway, providing employees with a reclusive place to focus on their projects.
Office pods were designed with functionality in mind: to boost focus in a busy workplace on an as-needed basis. Aside from the obvious, office pods offer other benefits too. Here are a few…
1. Noise blocking
The word “noise” is often associated with the audible aspects of an environment: people talking, coffee machines running, keyboards clacking, and another office buzz. What’s less considered is visual noise: motions in your peripherals, lights accosting your senses, what's happening on your neighbor’s computer screen, etc.
Office noise of any kind can cause sensory fatigue, especially when employees experience it for eight to nine hours per day. Fatigue leads to underperformance, which leads to stress and poor productivity. The office simply can't run effectively without a solution for all the noise. For most companies, subdividing individual offices for each employee isn't a feasible solution, which is one reason why organizations prefer open floor plans.
Office pods are the solution. Pods can be made available to employees who need them on an as-needed basis. Instead of providing enclosed office space for everyone, employees can share the pods, giving their overstimulated senses the rest they need.
While having a walled-in office space for each employee may boost employee focus, the setup is costly and may hinder collaboration. Open floor plans are popular, in part, for supporting serendipitous meetups, interdepartmental communication, and continual collaboration. The best way to get the most out of both open and closed office arrangements is to incorporate office pods in the floor plan.
Building permanent enclosed offices can require expensive renovations. Pods are a perfect, cost-effective solution for making sure employees have an enclosed space when they need one. Office pods are scalable and can be added to the office wherever they're needed. What’s more, they can be moved when the seating plan changes or whenever the office manager decides they'd be more effective in another spot.
3. Support conference calls
Not only do pods help reduce office fatigue and boost productivity, but they also support remote employees and clients. In an open office, meeting rooms are often the only spaces quiet enough to participate in a quality virtual meeting. This deficit is the main reason why conference rooms and meeting rooms are often only occupied by one or two people.
Imagine this: you're on an important call with a team based in Japan but Joel beside you won't stop slurping the dregs out of his smoothie cup. Behind you, Rachel is struggling to focus on her work while you brainstorm with your Japan-based team. If your office had pods, you could have taken the call in the isolation of a small space with minimal noise.
Pods don’t only help the people using them, but they offer spaces for employees to take noisy calls or slurp their smoothies. With small, noise-canceling rooms around the workplace, employees can escape office bedlam and also contain their noisy habits. This division is a recipe for worthwhile conference calls with minimal distractions.
4. Boost client engagement
Customers thrive under one-on-one attention from employees. Whether a member of sales, support, client relations, or another team, employees need quiet spaces with minimal distractions to provide customers with their undivided attention.
Such focused attention can have a great impact on sales close rates and customer retention, helping your company thrive through and through from the employee experience to the customer experience.
Types of office pods
A pod is simply a room within a room. How large the pod is, what features it comes with, and how it's designed varies per use case. Here are some variations you can look for along with which workplace experience they support.
1. Privacy level
Some pods are designed for maximum privacy and some are designed to keep pod-based employees connected to the workplace environment. Some factors that affect pod privacy include how soundproof the walls are and how solid the walls are. For example, most pods have glass walls. How many sides are glass can influence the level of privacy the pod offers. Glass not only allows for visual noise to pass into the pod but may not be as soundproof as other materials.
If you're looking for a solution that offers a heightened level of privacy, consider materials that block both audio and visual noise.
2. Standing, sitting, and everything in-between
Some pods are nothing more than compact phone booths complete with a small seat and tiny table. Although these have a purpose when it comes to virtual calls or personal conversations, there are other options for other use cases.
Some pods are designed as a booth seat with two cushioned benches surrounding a table, others simply offer a sofa to make employees feel like they're in their home office. Some provide an adjustable desk for standing, getting employees on their feet for a portion of their long workday. There are dozens of ergonomic solutions to choose from. Whatever configuration you need, there's probably a pod for it.
3. Pod size
The pod size is possibly the most important factor in which pod you choose. What will the pods be used for? What does your company need?
First of all, there are three different sizes of pods: small, medium, and large. Or, as some companies call them, solo, duo, or team. Mark Zuckerberg claims to have a desk out in the middle of his office floor plan, widely supporting the open office concept. However, rumor has it that he spends much of his workdays in pods and smaller spaces. Even the most adamant open-office supporters need a quiet space here and there.
If you have a hybrid team with a mix of on-site and remote workers, you might want solo pods for conference calls and virtual team meetings. If your conference rooms are too often booked by office meetings of two to four people, a larger pod can help keep conference rooms available for larger meetups.
Learn your office’s shortcomings and needs before deciding on a pod. Meeting analytics can significantly narrow down your research. Read on to learn more.
How to choose an office booth that meets your needs
Choosing the right meeting pods for your workspace requires thought and research. When perusing pod solutions, keep the following questions in mind:
- How many people need to be accommodated in the pod at any given time?
- How transparent should the pod be and how much visibility should it offer?
- Should passers be able to see everything in the pod? Some solutions offer privacy features, including cloaking materials, that allow passersby to see in but not what's on the screens inside.
- Do you want the interior of the pod to be flexible? Customizable by the employee using it?
- Is video conferencing a major use case for the pod?
- Will the pod need to be moved in the future?
When you are reviewing the best solutions available on the market, make sure to check out Koplus.
They offer booths ranging from solo to team configurations. Businesses can specify the booth’s interior, exterior, and frame colors to unify branding throughout the office. Rather than shipping the booths preconfigured, Koplus offers their clients a fully customized experience.
Upgrade the workplace experience with Joan
Pods are only as powerful as the system that manages them. Without a robust booking system in place, pods can cause more headaches than they cure.
For a work pod to pack the best punch, they need to be available when employees need them. This means that not only does a company have to invest in enough pods, but they also need to be bookable.
With a booking system, Jerry can reserve a pod for his 2:00 p.m. client meeting — in advance, directly from his mobile device. This way, he can be confident that his call will be uninterrupted with minimal background noise.
Joan offers a fully-scalable workplace management system that not only helps the office run smoothly, but also provides the information you need to improve how efficiently the office runs. Employees can reserve a meeting room, desk, or pod from the in-house calendar or on-the-fly using the mobile app.
What’s more, the Joan 6 and Joan 6 Pro conference room schedulers offer crystal clear signage, showing a room’s availability. The e-paper touchscreens enable users to book a room on the spot, marking the pod as unavailable on the company calendar software. The wireless room displays can be mounted on any surface, especially the popular glass walls of most office pods.
Joan analytics help office managers analyze the performance of each meeting space. These background analytics show how popular each space is, what time of day it's booked the most, who uses them the most, ad-hoc meetings versus pre-booked, the number of no shows, and more. With this information, office managers can distribute pods where they're essential, invest in the size that’s most popular, and as many as are needed.
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