The rapidly growing trend of video collaboration at work, as well as the increased need for privacy, is boosting the demand for soundproof and sound-reducing focus booths in offices across South Africa.
Isla Galloway-Gaul, the managing director of Inspiration Office, an office space and furniture consultancy, said: “There has been a huge increase in the use of video conferencing technology in the workplace in the past few years as collaboration at work becomes the new normal way of working.
“Collaborating with colleagues in different cities in South Africa and around the world is an important way to get the best outcome for projects and client work by getting all relevant people in one place on a video call,” she said.
Booths, which block or substantially reduce sound, are in demand as people can quickly pop into a booth and not disturb colleagues around them while on a call.
Also, booths are mobile and can be added to or moved around different parts of an office space as needed. It is also much quicker to install booths in an office, rather than look for extra office space or renovating existing offices.
Greater sense of privacy
Another advantage of booths is the sense of privacy offered to workers, especially those in open-plan offices.
Galloway-Gaul said: “When someone feels that they are working in a private space, their job performance actually improves. If an employee is talking on the phone, for example, they may feel more comfortable talking to a client, building a rapport and working out a deal than they would with their colleagues listening in on the conversation.”
One of the psychological repercussions of an open-plan office is the lack of control on employees. “This can lead to subconscious feelings of helplessness. There’s no way to get away from the noise, nowhere to find any privacy and no choice as to their work environment,” she said.
When you add a separate booth that employees are allowed to use when they need to, you give them back some much-needed control. That leads to greater productivity, higher morale and better job satisfaction. Workers often say that even if they don’t use the privacy offered by a booth, just knowing it is available to them lowers their stress levels.
The distraction of noise at work, even in the background, can be distressing on a mental level. That means an increase in stress levels, which can be significant over time. Loud noises cause people to pause in their work, lose focus, making them to restart tasks because their concentration is lacking.
“Even if you can’t see this happening, it is almost guaranteed to be the case for all employees working in an open-plan or noisy office. With a booth, those problems are largely eliminated, “Galloway-Gaul said.
Isla Galloway-Gaul, the managing director of Inspiration Office