Businesses must find ways to free up space in conference rooms


Real estate is a huge expense, so much so that it is often a company’s biggest financial liability. Even with the evolution of the office market this doesn’t appear to be changing, CBRE predicts that most US markets will have exceeded pre-crisis rent levels by the second quarter of 2022. This means that the Underutilized real estate can waste millions of dollars each. year and companies come to the conclusion that they need to maximize their use of office space. Surprisingly, a popular solution is to install soundproof booths.

Let’s take a step back, as the cost of real estate and office leases increases, it is more critical than ever to assess how an office will be used. For better or worse, most offices have an open layout, which means most employees spend their time stuck in a cacophony of noise. “Little consideration has been given to the kind of environment that needs to be in place to foster a functional, productive, innovative and inspiring workspace,” says Morten Meisner-Jensen, co-founder of ROOM. It is unfortunate that classic office layout is not only lacking for most of the people who use it, but also results in the loss of excess square footage.

Paradox of wasted space

The ironic accident that takes place in a typical office setting is that too many people use conference rooms as their own quasi-offices. Most offices these days are so noisy with their open layout, that many employees will flock to a confined space to have some peace and quiet with fewer interruptions. Conference rooms that only serve one person at a time defeat the purpose of a conference room.

At first glance, it may seem that adequate conference room space can be solved with a simple equation: X (conference rooms) should be proportional to Y (number of employees in the office), but there is more that. Employees aren’t hogging conference rooms to stretch their legs and click through the latest Reddit threads, they are trying to focus. Ironically, this attempt to be productive results in a loss of overall productivity, as meetings can be saved if individuals are constantly hogging space. It all comes down to a waste of time (it’s safe to say that waiting for a room to become available for an important meeting is not the best use of time, for anyone involved), and therefore a waste of money. .

Worse yet, a bigger space with more conference rooms won’t solve the problem. Think of it like the Braess Paradox: If you’re dealing with a chronically congested freeway, you’d think adding another lane of traffic would solve the problem. Alas, you would be wrong (ask anyone who uses the Katy Freeway). Add another lane to a highway in fact hindrance traffic flow, as it allows more people to take the same route, while further congestion of the roads. If you want to make it easier to get around, you have to offer people alternative routes (cycle paths, public railways, etc.) to reach the same destination. In this case, conference rooms booked one person at a time are not the destination, they are the traffic. A large, quiet space for individual use is the destination.

In addition, embarking on a complete reconstruction of the space can quickly become expensive. It can be complicated to coordinate a contractor, electrician and interior designer, etc. Having to finance a renovation is probably not the best idea for organizations that are already draining funds from misused real estate. However, many companies are turning to an alternative, which brings us back to soundproof cabins.

No noise

So most offices are generally noisy and lack privacy, even if the company chooses to downsize in response to the boom in hybrid work. “In our old offices, we still saw employees lined up in the stairwell trying to find a space quiet enough to make a phone call,” Meisner-Jensen continued. But in the pandemic and post-pandemic world of Zoom calling and Google Meets, finding a space quiet enough to make a phone call isn’t enough, you need to have visual privacy as well. Even so, Meisner-Jensen points out that the pandemic “did not inspire a shift to smaller collaboration spaces, but it definitely highlighted the troublesome truth that the modern workspace has long been shattered.” We therefore have a logistical need for more individualized private space which exacerbates the already aggravating problem of the misuse of conference rooms. But we already know that building more conference rooms won’t solve this problem. As the Braess Paradox suggests, there has to be some other form of transportation (or workspace in this scenario).

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A popular option that many companies try are soundproof booths (like a small but portable and more cost effective focus room). These stand-alone privacy workstations provide users with a secure and isolated personal space within the open office. Most of these armored workstations come equipped with ventilation systems, electrical outlets, and USB ports, so employees can fully concentrate on a task away from the bustling cacophony of the modern office. Organizations are also starting to realize that the affordability and portability of these booths could bridge the gap between fully used space and wasted space. Since these cubicles seem to be the hottest trend in office design, it wouldn’t be surprising if owners had a few on hand to entice tenants to rent out spaces that wouldn’t otherwise be used as offices (such as micro-warehouses).

“In the United States, there are 10.9 billion square feet of rented or owned office space, and 41% of it is vacant, but paid for,” said Andrew Farah, CEO of Density. Businesses feel this waste directly. Large meeting rooms are more likely to be underutilized when there isn’t enough private space for employees to take advantage of. As dust settles in the pandemic and post-pandemic world of videoconferencing and hybrid work schedules, office booths could be a perfect solution to optimize space while leaving more wiggle room in the office’s budget. office.

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