Have you ever worked in an open-plan office and found it hard to concentrate? In the last few years, dozens of companies have started producing a new office product, the micro office, which can solve some of the problems associated with working in a loud and crowded open office.
Micro offices, or phone booths, are free-standing boxes with a desk, a chair and a socket for your laptop. They are completely soundproof and provide a quiet space, where workers can go to make phone calls and have conversations or when they need some peace and quiet from the noisy office to write a report or simply to think.
These prefabricated booths cost between a few thousand dollars for the cheapest models and $10,000 for the larger, three-person version. They only take a few hours to install and provide companies with an easy way to make their office space more flexible. And when a company needs to move to a different office space, the micro offices can easily be transported to the new premises.
The cubicles aren’t supposed to replace one’s primary workspace. They are meant as a temporary space that provides privacy and a quiet working environment when required or a place for face-to-face meetings for two or three people.
Originally, companies thought that if employees all worked in the same office, collaboration would increase. However, a 2018 study showed that workspaces without walls or boundaries decreased face-to-face interaction by about 70% and increased electronic communication by 20% to 50%. The installation of micro offices addresses this problem by providing a more flexible workspace, without returning to the closed offices of the past.
But is it comfortable to work in a cramped, stuffy cubicle? “At first, it felt a little strange,” said one of the employees at an architecture and design firm that installed one of the booths in their office. “But we kind of fell in love with it after a while because, sometimes, you want to get into your little cave and you want to feel protected.”