The Office Phone Booth and the Mental Health Benefits that Come with It

article on mental health benefits of booths

Do you work in an open office space? Are you subject to unwanted chatter, second-hand small talk, and low-grade noise distractions? When was the last time you got any "me time" on the job?

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For most of us, it’s the noise that breaks us down first. According to research from the University of Sydney, nearly 50% of people in an open plan and 60% of those in cubicle settings are dissatisfied with the amount of sound privacy they get.

By contrast, 16% of those surveyed in private offices felt the same. And sure, there may be some variables at play. Workers with their own offices likely have a place at the top of the food chain-and the perks and pay that come with that status.

Sure, people get to talk to each other more, and that’s nice in a lot of ways.

You get to know your colleagues and bond over your shared experience. Nobody else knows the pain of working with that one awful VP, or understands the mad dash to get everything together for an upcoming corporate event.

But, a little too much togetherness can sometimes take a toll on your well-being.

Even extroverts, who can use energy from connections, can feel the burnout from too much collaboration.

Quiet Spaces Encourage Creative Thinking

Booth mental health

Focusing on complex tasks—think engineering, banking, and creative pursuits, is much harder in an open space.

An office phone booth gives workers a chance to “do the numbers” in a place where they don’t need to start their train of thought over and over without being interrupted.  
When your job is coming up with ideas—distraction can keep you down. Casual banter becomes a point of contention. Quick questions and lunch invites are met with a hefty dose of dread.

Office phone booths offer a safe area for knowledge workers to brainstorm their next big content strategy, plan their social media posts, or come up with a new way to address a persistent problem. It’s not antisocial, it’s essential.

A Chance to Detox

Collaboration, inclusivity, togetherness. Open-plan offices are the ultimate paid utopia in a lot of ways. But, on the flip side, we need a chance to step back and operate within our heads.

Small breaks to decompress serve as a means of boosting productivity and preventing employees from suffering from burnout. We spend about a quarter of our lives at work—so asking employees to hand over their personal space and access to noise is a tall order.

Imagine if you had to be in the same room as a roommate or your whole family for entire days at a time. You'd go nuts. The point is, that we all need a social detox to revisit our priorities.

In the workplace, this means time to join video conferences uninterrupted. Or write down your goals and brainstorm.

Mixed Use Spaces Cater to All Employee Needs

Employees benefit from a mix of environments. So, there’s a benefit to these sociable open office plans or spaces designed for relaxation and socialization.

With office pods, employees can choose to use the space as a way to get some reading done, sans electronics, or focus intently on a difficult task.

Quiet spaces don’t necessarily need to be solitary, either. Instead, colleagues can gather in a two or four-person meeting pod and get down to business. The intimate setting fosters creativity and trust—much more than presenting your ideas in front of a larger group.

Making Phone Calls in Private

Millennials hate talking on the phone as is. A generalization, to be sure, but there's plenty of truth there.

While there's always the folks who don't care who hears them on the phone, others get significant time anxiety at the thought of connecting with clients in a room full of listening ears.

Chances are, no one cares about your phone conversation. And if they do, they're more concerned with the noise pollution than anything else.

Adding a privacy pod or three-- to an open work environment allows people to make private phone calls at a dedicated workstation. Thus reducing the stress that comes with making calls in public.  We're talking no interruptions, no background noise.

Employees Are Re-energized and Ready to Collaborate

No solitude can lead to snapping at colleagues for every little request. Psychology Today covered the many ways that alone time affects our personal lives. But, rarely do we consider the health of our work relationships.

A little time apart will help you improve your relationships at work, too. You’ll be more inclined to chat with a coworker about her weekend or seek out feedback on a project where you might typically retreat into your noise-canceling headphones.

What we’re saying is, employers building personal space into the office will lead to those connections that the open office space was supposed to promote in the first place.

Is it Time to Change Your Office Design

At Thinktanks, we believe the next generation of the workplace needs to account for the "whole person." Wellness programs are on the rise, and more and more, we're looking at mental health as much as physical.

Has a lack of privacy in the workspace caused any problems for you? If so, what is your current privacy solution?

Investing in a few pods is a lot more cost-effective than moving to a new office with private offices for all. Head over to our privacy pods page to see what you’ll get with a Thinktanks privacy pod.

And, if you’d like to learn more about our flexible solution—get in touch. We’re happy to answer questions or talk logistics.

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