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How the Pod Phenomenon Mitigates Workplace Burnout

It goes without saying that fully understanding the pod phenomenon is the first step in benefiting from it. Density, a workplace utilization platform, analyzed meeting room usage for more than 10,000 hours and the results suggest incorrectly sized office spaces can cost businesses millions every year. Conference rooms – which regularly cost up to $10,000 to build, equip, and maintain – are routinely used by just one person. Considering real estate is expensive and isn’t always available in highly populated cities, making more conference rooms isn’t a realistic answer to office environments today––enter: the need for soundproof meeting spaces.

Acoustic pods cater to the real needs of employees and are an accessible option for employers. When adding pods to an office, meetings with 1-4 people can take place within these spaces as opposed to taking up an entire conference room that could be used for larger groups. Different work styles, strategies, and tasks determine the type of workplace that is going to enable optimal productivity, and that’s not to say that it would be the same type of space all day––hence the demand for flexible workplace products.

The concept seems simple – four walls and a ceiling. In reality, overcoming open office challenges is more difficult than it appears. Echoing, ventilation, and mobility are just a few of the challenging design components that must be addressed in this environment. When these elements are properly executed, the acoustic pod serves as a long-term investment in a company’s success.

While many companies know that pods exist, they often don’t understand the extent to which these products can directly serve a company’s mission––grasping the customization capabilities is the next step in reaping all the benefits these booths have to offer. Companies can furnish their pods however they choose ––whether that be leaving it unfurnished (I’ve seen companies convert these models into meditation spaces or karaoke rooms), incorporating a conference table (as it might solve the issue of meeting room space), or adding in an L-shaped sofa. While that last option seems simple, a sofa actually creates a plethora of opportunities including a casual environment for meetings or interviews, a space to find respite, or an area for socializing. Pod functionality can be increased with add-ons such as display screens, whiteboards, and lightweight free-standing, or floating tables to make for a more ergonomic space. Allowing users to have a hand in customizing their pods optimizes user satisfaction and overall, supports a healthy and happy employee morale.

The location of the pod within an office space is an important consideration. Pods should be close to workstations and open areas so that they are easy for employees to access amidst all of the ongoing noise. There should also be some ground rules set regarding potential overuse or “hogging” and guidelines that help with maintenance such as, “be sure to clean up after yourself!”

The end goal is to provide innovative solutions that help combat the common issues posed by the open office plan such as noise and other distractions as well as a general lack of privacy. The pod phenomenon emerged from the need for change, something to aid in increasing employee happiness and productivity who work in noise-polluted office spaces. Pod designs must regularly be revisited conceptually, since it is important to incorporate new enhancements and adjustments to further develop products so that they’re evolving alongside the modern workplace and different varying work styles.

Recently, Framery, a manufacturer of pods, phone booths and soundproof private spaces enlisted FirstBeat Findings, a provider of physiological analytics for wellbeing to conduct a study that measured stress levels before and after users experienced a pod. Throughout the case study, the team used FirstBeat technology to measure the physiological reaction users had in relation to the privacy pods. The technology – a wearable device that measures heart rate variability – monitored stress and recovery levels of participants during a normal work day, while taking occasional breaks in a pod.

Recuperating from anxiety-inducing moments in a space that is noisy and filled with distractions doesn’t give employees the recovery time they might need to get through the rest of their tasks. Pods statistically demonstrate the ability to alleviate employee stress and burnout, through the wearable technology provided by FirstBeat. Results also suggest that employees within the study showed a significant increase when it came to sleeping and were more motivated to exercise, compared to those who do not have accessibility to pods in the workplace.

The key findings of this study help to illustrate the importance of pods in an open space and how innovative designs generate workplace happiness by providing a solution for those that want to work or brainstorm in a different setting. Comprehending how pods can impact users, allows employees and employers to fully tap into and unleash the benefits associated with this unique office solution.

Propmodo is a global multimedia effort to explore how emerging technologies affect our built environment.

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