Spaceworx ZipPod

Block Out Distractions

Separation panels and barriers make it easier to concentrate in an open plan office. Oftentimes, we find ourselves trying to find a “focus space” where our colleagues will not interrupt our calls, where conversations will not disrupt our train of thought and where we can simply dedicate fully to our work functions. Having a space where we can focus is not only beneficial but necessary, for example, in coworking spaces. It is very common for individuals to work out of coworking spaces where one would be surrounded by people from various industries and backgrounds. While this diversity is very interesting and inclusive, it may also lead to distractions as many people will be speaking on the phone, having virtual meetings or having conversations.

 

        1. The benefits of a Zip Pod

 

In order to have a dedicated space that is aesthetic and welcoming, Spaceworx has dedicated its team to develop the most comfortable type of furniture. The Zip Pod is an example of how various elements can amount to a design that is private and convenient for meetings and solo sessions. By adding features, such as doors or panels, the Zip Pod can become a unit with many characteristics that companies are looking for. The versatility of the product makes it a good option for those trying to find “focus zones” and concentrate on tasks that require full attention.

Spaceworx ZipPod® applications

        2. Alternative solutions 

 

Many workers resort to the use of headphones, for example, to block out distractions. While this is a good temporary solution, it is not a solution to the problem of distractions. Workers can become disengaged from their colleagues and from the important dynamics of the workplace and this can result in negative consequences such as lack of communication with colleagues. The best way to block out distractions and to concentrate is to implement the use of zones and areas where employees can focus and work privately while at the same being available to the needs of the office. While alternative solutions may be a temporation fix, Spaceworx can offer a wide range of options to counter the lack of privacy and lack of spaces to concentrate in the office. 

Noisy open plan office space
Spaceworx Zip Pod for mobile work

        3. Allocating designation to “focus zones”

 

Finally, blocking out noise and distractions can be attained through the use of office dynamics that allow individuals to work in various parts of the office depending on the need of the assignment. In this case, the spaces that are used for group sessions can be used for that purpose and the spaces where individual work is needed can in turn be used for these focus sessions. Many companies have allowed their employees to work from home, this has been beneficial to combat the effects of the Covid pandemic at work. However, the office model still exists, and thus the environment where workers function can be disruptive at times. The creation of opportunities to function in a more efficient and productive way allows companies to be more effective while adding comfort to employees in the office.

Quietflow by Spaceworx

A New Way of Working

As we increasingly all know, work can be done from anywhere.The pandemic has accelerated the trend of remote working and made it mainstream for nearly every business.  Many businesses now realize that a lot of  work can be performed just as efficiently from home as in the office.

But what does this all mean for the future of the office?   At Spaceworx we are here to support companies as they embrace this new way of working Aka Hybrid work environment or agile working.  Gone are the days of needing your own desk or private office with a locked door. If you can open up your laptop in a coffee shop or airport and get some work done, the same principles should apply to the workplace.

Our belief is that employees work best when given the choice to work where, when and how they feel most productive. This not only applies to remote working but also the workplace environment in a physical sense. 

Below we laid out four workplace strategies that can be used to create an efficient, productive agile working environment.

  1. Unassigned seating

Creating a completely flexible environment where users can use a wide variety of different settings and spaces as explained below is the most efficient method of creating an agile workplace.  The office environment should support a certain number of users at any given time.  For example if a company has 100 employees, they can create an efficient workspace for 25 users since 75 employees could be working remotely or out of the office at any given time. It’s important to understand your usage data to create the correct size environment. 

    2. Work settings or “zones”

This trend is not necessarily new but has only increased in importance since the pandemic. The concept of this workplace design is to create a flexible workplace based on different types of work zones. The term Activity Based Working or ABW was created to describe this phenomenon. Companies started to create sections in the office where people could work without interruption or in a community. The design of the office became more diverse and new models of furniture sprung up.. The use of pods has, in general, facilitated ABW and has positioned people at work in a new setting.

 

Activity Based Office

    3. Modular Furniture and Spaceworx Pods. 

Spaceworx pods, while aesthetic, also provide a modular environment that is flexible in many ways. The furniture is easy to move around office space and has an acoustical characteristic that makes it optimal to work in. The pods serve a variety of purposes from a private office like setting to a phone booth to make private calls or video meetings, to acoustical collaboration hives. Modular furniture and pods can be moved or reconfigured quickly to serve different functions, uses or teams.  As an example, the back panel of the Zippod can be removed and the pods can be joined together to create a larger meeting space.

    4. Location is everything

Positioning your new Spaceworx furniture in the right place of the office space is crucial. By providing an additional meeting space you are increasing the opportunities for communication, but keeping in mind dividing walls, light and entries can become important to make the use of the pods inviting to all. For example the Hive Cafe is a nice addition to a break room, although it can be used in other ways, because it makes it possible for teams to engage in their free time by sharing time in this product. Break time is part of the new way of working and it is important in the sense that people need to recharge, and what better way to recharge than in style with Spaceworx products. 

Office Break Room

It is also important to keep in mind that pods are intended for specific use and not for a full day’s work. This is where unassigned seating and activity based working comes into play as individuals can move from place to place depending on their current task. 

Quietflow by Spaceworx

Reducing decibels

Excessive noise in the workplace can lead to lower levels of productivity, decreased wellbeing and cause high levels of stress. 

In the survey that was conducted in 2019 – ‘Noise and Wellbeing at Work’ Survey, it was discovered that 44% of the office workers reported that noise has a negative impact on their overall wellbeing, and a further 65% reported that noise in the workplace impacted on their ability to complete work in an accurate and timely manner.

In a separate study, researchers found that on average it takes around 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to a task after being distracted. If we relate that back to the findings from the ‘Noise and Wellbeing at Work’ survey, that means each of the employees is losing 1 hour and 55 minutes a day to noise distractions.

Open plan office distractions
  • Other solutions on the market, such as soundproofing room dividers, panels, baffles, tiles etc, are promising to deliver noise suppression and better acoustics but, it has been confirmed through testing that the office pod is perhaps the most renowned solution of them all. At its essence, it is an acoustic pod that is reducing decibels and is providing privacy and focus.
  • Spaceworx  modular office pods are an affordable win-win investment. It gives employees control over their office environment and it allows them to have a private space to concentrate or take phone calls. Pods are modular/mobile and can be reconfigured or expanded to accommodate a growing team. Most importantly, there is brilliant engineering behind the soundproofing technology which is helping to create the perfect working environment.  The wall panels are composed of multiple layers of materials designed to trap and absorb sound at every layer.  The Quietflow™ ventilation system is designed to provide the maximum amount of airflow while also trapping and absorbing sounds before entering or exiting the booths.   The door and glass, although the weakest point on the booth in terms of soundproofing, is designed with seals around it to create a completely acoustical and contained space for soundproofing. 
Spaceworx Quietflow Ventilation System
  • Soundproofing performance of the pods can vary depending on the spaces they are placed in.  For example if the overall workplace environment is extremely quiet and has no ambient noise from HVAC or white noise.  It is still likely some conversations inside the booths can be heard from outside the booths close by. 
  • To understand this better, normal speaking volume is approximately 50- 60 decibels while the Decibel Double and Single booths are designed on average to absorb approximately 40 Decibels inside the booths.   That means standing directly in front of booths, its likely noise can still be heard from inside the booth.  However, with an average of 10 decibels of ambient noise in the overall environment and a bit of space between the booths and the  other work settings, the booths are virtually soundproof for normal conversations.   
Spaceworx reducing decibels
  • Creating a completely soundproof pod at 60-70 decibels theoretically could be possible but it is important to understand the drawbacks of such a pod.  Firstly, it would be extremely cost prohibitive and any glass would need to be a double glaze with an air chamber in between.    The airflow system would have to be extremely limited on airflow due to the ability of sound being able to escape through that system. .  Lastly and most importantly, it would be a safety hazard and would likely be in violation of most building codes or regulations with regards to fire alarms.  A typical fire alarm is around 80 Decibels.  That means a completely “soundproof” booth at 60-70 decibels would make it difficult, if not impossible to hear a fire alarm or any other emergency outside the booth. It’s important to take into consideration that the Decibel pods are significantly better soundproofing than a typical conference room or private office.  Depending on how standard rooms are constructed, they typically only block about 20-35 decibels. 
Spaceworx Decibel Double in office

Understanding QuietFlow™ ventilation in Decibel privacy pods

What is the Spaceworx Quietflow™ Ventilation system?  How does this differ from other privacy pods ventilation systems? 

 

With the increasing number of modular privacy booths we seek to cover the different types of ventilation systems in modular pods, the basics on how the ventilation systems work and how it differs from the Spaceworx Quietflow™ system.

The majority of fully enclosed privacy booths advertise some sort of ventilation system, typically consisting of computer fans circulating air into the pod or exhausting air out of the pods. As with most things, careful consideration should be given to the details of these systems as all ventilation systems are not created equal.  Below is an outline of the main points to take in consideration as well how the Spaceworx Quietflow™ systems differ..

  • Airflow Direction: The first thing to consider when looking at ventilation systems is the airflow direction.  A Lot of systems are designed only to exhaust air meaning they strictly pull air out of the pods with the intent of keeping the pods from overheating inside.  The drawback of this design is that the pods typically do not get fresh air pushed into the pods, so after a while the pods tend to still get stuffy and lack fresh air and oxygen. The Spaceworx Quietflow™ system can be set up to work in two ways: the first method is to strictly blow fresh air into the pods, and the second method is to have a balanced system of air circulation.  In the first scenario, which seems to have the best reviews from customers, fresh air is set up  to blow  down the side walls so as to not blow air directly onto the users inside the pods.  On the second scenario, the pods can  be set up to have a balanced system so on one side of the pods it circulates new fresh air into the pods while on the other side it can exhaust or extract air creating a perfectly balanced system with constant fresh air in while old air is being pulled out. 
Understanding QuietFlow™ ventilation
Air circulations in Decibel Double
  • Soundproofing: Having the perfect balance between soundproofing and good airflow isn’t an easy design to achieve.  The reason for this is because the more soundproof the air flow channel, typically the less airflow you will receive in the pod.  On the other hand,  some pod manufacturers simply place fans on the roof and have holes straight through the ceiling. While this method may provide good airflow, the overall pod will have ineffective soundproofing with the ability for all noise to go straight through the holes.  Other privacy pods manufacturers focus on superior sound performance by removing  airflow inside the pods severely affecting users who  cannot stay in the pods much longer than 15-20 minutes at a time.
Decibel Double sound privacy
Decibels bouncing off meeting booth
  • Noise: Having a loud background noise while on the phone is never fun.  Unfortunately, fans do make noise and typically the more airflow the fans provide, the noisier the fans get.  What are the decibel noise levels the fans provide?   How is any noise from the fans mitigated or reduced inside the pods?   These are questions that should be asked when looking into the ventilation systems. The Quietflow system is designed with specific fan blades that provide the maximum airflow while having a very low noise ratio.  While it is   not possible for any good ventilation fan to create  nonoise, the Quietflow is designed to mitigate any noise to a minimum on the inside of the pods.  The ambient noise of the fans inside the pods is approximately 5-7 decibels.
Quietflow ventilation decibels
  • CFM / Air Changes: A typical  conference room will provide anywhere from 4-10 air changes per hour. This is in accordance with ASHRAE Standard 62.1.  Air change rate is a measure of the air volume added to or removed from a space in one hour.  This is an important measurement when looking at modular pods.   Air changes per hour are calculated by the CFM or cubic feet of air moved per minute of the ventilation system.   All fans will have a CFM rating on how much air they can circulate per minute.   It is  important to note that, just because the fans might be moving a certain CFM does not mean that this is the exact CFM inside the pods. 
  • Airflow will often be restricted by the size of any air vents, channels, ducts, insulation etc.   Some privacy pods manufacturers advertise that all air will be completely changed/recirculated inside the pods every minute. It is important to ask what this is based on, is it based on the CFM of the fans?  What about the size and restriction of any vents? The Quietflow™ system has 170 CFM (cubic feet per minute) exchange of air rate for a Decibel Single  Phone Booth and 340 CFM for the Decibel Double Pod.  This equates to 170 cubic feet per minute of air exchange  or 2.8 air exchange per second,  depending on the size of the pod.   These numbers are, however, based solely on the capacity of the fans and do not take into account account any additional restrictions.  Based on the acoustical properties and vent restrictions, the actual air exchange equates to 100 cubic feet per minute   or 1.6 per second, which is significantly more than most HVAC systems and normal conference rooms. 
  • Ventilation is not AC: A common misconception with ventilation systems in modular pods is that they are equipped with air conditioners or cooling systems.  It is important to note that we are not aware of any manufactures that provide actual air conditioning in their pods.  With all modular pods, they are strictly designed to circulate room temperature air outside the pods with the intent to keep the pods from getting too hot or stuffy.Placement of the pods in the office or location, and air temperature conditions in your overall environment will have an impact on the airflow performance inside the pods.  For example placing a pod  underneath a heating duct will circulate warm air inside the pod in the winter time causing the pod to feel too warm and stuffy inside.   On the other hand, placing the pod directly under an air conditioning duct may cause the pods to feel too cold.  It is important to place the pods in areas of the spaces where the air will circulate in a well balanced manner  and where conditioned air will help to provide the optimal temperature and user experience overall.
Spaceworx Hive Cafe Work Booth

Comparing modular phone booths and pods to traditional construction

Phone booths and modular products are increasingly popular as companies seek to avoid the hassles of traditional construction and increase the flexibility and productivity of their workplaces.

Our view is that the benefits of modular booths, pods and modular workspace products far outweigh the drawbacks.   Below we seek to cover three main points of comparison to traditional construction.

 

  • Time

It’s a well known fact that the permitting process in many jurisdictions are increasingly taking longer and longer to review plans and issue building permits.   Building in traditional conference rooms, offices and private spaces takes considerable time just for planning and permitting not to mention the actual work.  

The typical construction process typically requires working with an architect to draft a detailed plan and scope of work.  The drawings are then submitted to the building department for permit review where it’s likely that they will require further information and possibly changes to the plans. Once the plans are approved additional time and resources are required to bid and select a qualified contractor to perform the work.  

Once a contractor is selected and the permits are approved, the actual work onsite requires considerably more time and disruption than a simple installation of a modular booth. 

For example, the Spaceworx Decibel Double (4 per meeting pod) takes an installation team two hours to install versus building a drywall room, which requires weeks and multiple trades and crews to get involved.

A potential drawback to modular pods and phone booths is that most manufacturers have a lead time on production and installation.  Lead times typically range from two weeks to  twenty weeks depending on the product availability and manufacturing location.   

Although modular products will have lead times, it’s important to consider that this process will use considerably less of your time and resources versus hiring architects and managing the design construction process.  Additionally, it is not likely that traditional construction can be accomplished any quicker than the pod  production lead times. 

Modular office booth vs construction
  • Cost

Cost tends to be a major factor when comparing modular workplace solutions to traditional construction.   Unfortunately, there is no absolute comparison between the cost of traditional construction and modular booths and pods as so many different factors affect the price of construction.   For example, construction in  a union office tower in San Francisco, New York or any downtown area  is going to cost a lot more than a one story suburban building.   In general, our conclusion is that both modular products and traditional construction on average can be comparable in cost.  In some cases we are told that it is cheaper to build walls; however, in our view that may be overlooking many factors, not to mention your own time to manage the process.   

When comparing construction costs, it is important to factor in the cost for a designer or architect to prepare the plans.  The building department also charges fees on permits for reviewing the plans and issuing the permits.   The contractors prices are also not set in stone, it’s very common for construction to run into unforeseen issues which end up costing more than expected. 

  • Flexibility & Sustainability 

Flexibility seems to be the most important factor when companies decide to purchase modular pods over traditional construction.  The vast majority of companies cannot predict their exact workspace requirements in two years let, alone four or five years. 

Many companies have leases that will be expiring in a few years.  Investing in the workspace with construction only to abandon it when they move out of the space seems like a waste of resources to most companies.  A modular product can be disassembled and reused in a new location.

Even larger companies that have longer term leases tend to reconfigure their offices often to accommodate different requirements as they grow or things change.  Modular pods and workplace products tend to have different levels of modularity.   For example, the Decibel Double and single booths can be moved, literally slid around, to different locations within an open office using furniture glides.  However if the product needs to be moved to a different room, floor or building, it will need to be disassembled and reassembled.  Other products such as our Zip Pod are designed with wheels on the base so it can be quickly moved and reconfigured daily depending on the immediate workspaces needs.

Sustainability also plays an important role with most booths and products being built out of recyclable materials. In addition, modular products can be assembled and disassembled multiple times having a much longer life cycle whereas traditional construction ends up in the landfill every time a change is made. 

Spaceworx Decibel Double Meeting Booth in Office

Using colors in workplace privacy booths and pods to increase productivity

​Having an array of colors that stimulate the brain can have exponential benefits for employees and affect mood in a positive manner. Having the right combination in the office can bring some of the best results. 

At Spaceworx we have added over 200 possibilities of colors and choices to our product line with a 3D configurator available online.  Below is an outline on how certain colors can be used for certain purposes and which product and function is best suited. 

 

Blue:

Use blue in spaces where you want to focus and concentrate to create an environment where ideas flow easily. Blue helps employees remain at task and bring accurate results.

Blue helps individuals focus and it stimulates ideas while concentrating. The color blue can potentially be a good addition to phone booths by providing a quiet and tranquil space for users to concentrate.

Spaceworx Decibel Single Phone Booth

Yellow:

Use yellow generously to increase productivity, creating a space for interaction, yellow can contribute to creativity and new ideas. 

Yellow is often associated with a state of creativity and this can allow the artistic side of the brain to come out and allow individuals to create never before seen projects. It is important to be generous with the color yellow to allow for the left side of the brain to work in the right manner by creating solutions that are displayed during a brainstorming moment or a discussion of a topic that requires creativity. While some colors could become overwhelming to some, the color yellow is one that allows for both a balance and an inspiration to those that are exposed to it. 

A good example of where to use yellow in your space would be the Decibel Double or Hive Cafe booths which are used for collaboration and brainstorming teams. 

Spaceworx Decibel Double Meeting Booth in Office

Red:

Use red sporadically in spaces that require employees to get up and do something active. Red will motivate individuals and its use can have great results on motivation. 

There are occasions and tasks that may require you to get up from your chair and move, in which case the color red is the best option because it motivates people to be active and complete tasks fast and in an efficient manner. The color red, along with physical activity can stimulate the brain to release certain chemicals that make people happy and ready to take on any project that is presented to them. Motivating and exciting, the color red allows us to bring our potential away from the desk and in a more mobile environment. 

Spaceworx Mobile Zip Pod in open office

Green:

Use green in spaces where long projects are completed since this color helps individuals to concentrate and allow for rest to the eyes. 

More and more, we see extensive hours or work in front of a computer screen and in an enclosed environment. The color green can be a good choice for the length of time that we remain in the same space at one time. It can be quieting while at the same time allowing for low eye fatigue and allowing individuals that require a long time to complete a project or task without interruption. Green can be used in combination with other more stimulating colors within any of the products. 

 

Purple:

Use purple in spaces where fast paced projects are completed, purple creates an environment of both efficiency and achievement and can have a great effect on the productivity of individuals.

Purple can be used in combination with other colors within any of the products or on its own.

Gray:

Use gray with other colors since this is a neutral color and can be used in various spaces and situations. Gray can help individuals remain focused but needs another color to increase creativity and productivity.

Gray can is most often used in combination with other colors in any of the products. 

White:

Use white in spaces and situations where a blank slate is needed and a project may be presenting obstacles. White allows for the creation of new solutions and ideas to flow.

White is often used for the exterior of the product creating a clean and minimalist modern environment.  

Finally, it is important to have good lighting wherever work is completed, lighting that mimics sunlight and natural light is the best because mood is improved and a sense of calmness can be achieved. Overall, colors and light must be carefully balanced to achieve the right combination between concentration, focus, creativity and activity. 

To learn more about the colors possibilities visit our 3D configurator:

https://spaceworx.us/3d-configurator/

Spaceworx FireShield System

Fire suppression systems in modular phone booths and meeting pods.

Spaceworx Decibel Double Meeting Pod

With the ever-increasing trend of modular phone booths, meeting pods and private workspaces in open-plan office environments, a common question that gets asked is: “What about sprinkler heads?”.

Unfortunately, there hasn’t been clear direction on this from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) or the International Building Code (IBC), both of which develop fire and sprinkler codes followed by most local jurisdictions.  This has ultimately left what we call a “gray area” for most building inspectors and fire marshals’ inspections and decisions.

Before modular booths and pods were mainstream in offices, the NFPA had guidance that stated that modular furniture did not require sprinkler heads installed in them.  This guidance worked for a while with many jurisdictions accepting fully enclosed phone booths and meeting pods as “modular furniture” that did not require sprinkler heads.

In recent years, most jurisdictions and fire marshals have changed their opinion and now require sprinkler heads or fire suppression systems installed in modular pods.

In fact, the NFPA has posted a blog called Navigating the sprinkler requirements for office pods.”  In the blog, they say “NFPA doesn’t specifically address whether office pods should be sprinkled” however they do say “according to NFPA 13, the default answer is yes, unless permitted otherwise.”  This would indicate that NFPA likely will revise its code making it clear that fire sprinklers are required in office pods.

IBC however does allow exemptions for the need of sprinkler heads when the booth does not exceed 4ft in width.  IBC 903.3.3 states “Automatic sprinklers shall be installed in or under covered kiosks, displays, booths, concession stands, or equipment that exceeds 4 feet (1219 mm) in width.”  This has allowed many jurisdictions to exempt smaller phone booths such as the Decibel Single phone booth which has an exterior size of 40”x40”.

With it becoming increasingly clear that any modular booths over 4ft wide require a sprinkler head or fire suppression, many companies are looking for cost-effective solutions to either retrofit existing booths or plan for the correct solutions for the installation of new booths.  Listed below are the pros and cons of 3 primary available solutions to satisfy the building code requirements:

1. Install sprinkler heads in each pod.

The cost can range from $1,000- $3,000 per pod.

Pros:

This is guaranteed to meet any building code requirements.

 

Cons:

Cost prohibitive

Time-consuming permitting process

Requires onsite construction work/trade professional contractor

Booths are no longer modular

 

2. Pods with open ceiling or baffles 

Pods with open ceilings or baffles are increasingly the solution furniture manufacturers are turning to.  Although this code allows existing building sprinkler systems to cover inside the pods, these are not completely acoustical privacy booths.

Pros:

Cost-effective

Meets building code requirements

Still Modular

 

Cons:

Not a fully enclosed privacy booth

Not completely acoustical or soundproof

Spaceworx Fireshield

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