The concept of open office spaces is meant to remove old-school cubicles, break down office hierarchy, and keep floor plans open so teams can collaborate and work in an easy-going manner.
But former interior designers, Ray Ong and Andrea Wee think that workspaces are placed too close together and lack proper flow in design.
With distraction and chatter in the office, it’s sometimes hard for employees to focus too. So, through a company they started called Enbooth, they created a “work pod”, a soundproof booth that’s portable and works as a quiet and zen private space so you can get work done efficiently.
A booth for isolation
We at Vulcan Post have been WFH for almost 2 full years now, and previously we had discussed new office floor plans for when we wanted to return to work in person.
It’s been fun imagining interior design ideas for our new space, and though we still settled on an open-office layout, one collective request made was to have a few soundproof booths for phone calls or to isolate ourselves for better focus.
Ray and Andrea’s portable work pod (also called Enbooth) is soundproof, fitted with a sit-stand desk and chair, and boasts enough space at 10 sqft for a single person to make calls and work in private with little distractions. It also has a tempered glass window so others will know that a booth is occupied.
Booth size aside, the finishings, materials used, and colours for The Enbooth are customisable. Clients can choose to match their work pod’s exterior to the design of their offices, whether it’s industrial or Scandanavian themed.
As the core team is made up of interior designers, Enbooth also provides free consultation services to advise clients on where the booths can fit in their offices. This includes the orientation of the booths along with suggestions for its theme, colours, and materials.
Getting the acoustics right
The inside of The Enbooth is 20 decibels quieter than the usual surrounding noise. It has dense layers of acoustic panelling made from 90% recycled plastic bottles and Rockwool to muffle noise and distractions.
While users will still hear the muffled noise from the office, people outside the work pod won’t be able to hear any private conversations taking place inside The Enbooth.
I haven’t personally encountered many Malaysian businesses creating soundproof booths for offices. From experience, such amenities are usually catered to the sound recording industry, such as LovelyTeik which offers it for RM6,000.
Compared to Enbooth’s RM7,999 starting price, LovelyTeik’s offering can appear cheaper, but it doesn’t include a built-in adjustable desk, plug points, and lights like Enbooth’s, since it caters to the non-office crowd.
Ray and Andrea agreed that there aren’t many local companies creating booths for work purposes or office use. Instead, what they have seen are companies opting for built-in work pods in their offices.
The downside of having the booths built-in though is that if the company decides to move office spaces, they wouldn’t able to take their booths with them. In the end, this would incur more costs overall to re-renovate the booth.
With Enbooth, companies that choose to move can simply pack up and go, setting up the work pod in its new location.
“It takes a lot of cost and expertise to fine-tune a work pod, especially getting the ventilation and sound insulation right,” they shared.
Enbooth has already done all that R&D for you. Investing around RM100K as capital for the business, the team made countless prototypes and retested them to launch the final version of The Enbooth.
But that didn’t mean the Malaysian market was ready for such products.
Changing market perceptions
“When we entered the market, Malaysians were not very receptive to the idea of work pods yet,” Ray and Andrea admitted. “We had luck in Singapore initially, but capturing the Malaysian market was a slow and steady effort.”
According to the team, there was a huge education gap on the importance of ergonomics at work, but people have become more receptive to it over time.
“Now, it’s steadily improving and we are here for it, as more and more Malaysian companies and individuals are learning about Enbooth,” the team added. Today, large companies like TM, Getha, and Heroes of Digital comprise some of Enbooth’s notable clients.
Targeting companies of all sizes, Enbooth has even noted an interesting customer segment of individuals looking to install a work pod at home, likely due to the WFH culture.
The company has also been approached by those in the sound recording industry, with plenty of voice-over artists expressing interest in The Enbooth too, the duo shared.
Along with their Singaporean reseller, Ray and Andrea shared that Enbooth sells an average of 10-25 work pods a month in Malaysia and across the causeway.
Seeing a sales growth rate of 200% compared to pre-pandemic numbers, it suggests that perhaps social distancing measures and the WFH culture have led to companies and individuals realising they could benefit from such a product.
Other than The Enbooth, the company has an expanded range of ergonomic products too, like its Endesk series (sit-stand desks) and its semi-ergonomic office chair, Enchair Aura, all of which face local competitors like EVIS and Alterseat, to name a few.
Diversifying its product range is in line with the company’s end goal of being known as a local furniture company Malaysians can be proud of, but the team isn’t rushing things for the sake of it.
“Pacing and consistency are just as important to us as the quality of our products, so we hope to keep delivering,” they concluded.
Featured Image Credit: The Enbooth team