Open-plan offices with closely-packed workspaces are all the rage for most modern office layouts nowadays, due to their space-efficient design and ability to facilitate good team communication.
However, sometimes there’s still a need for a private workspace that suits specific situations.
This can be for a P&C call, a one-on-one virtual meeting, or just a spot where you can block out distractions and focus on completing your work, for example.
In an open-plan office though, creating a room where someone can isolate seems counter-intuitive, especially if it’s only meant for temporary use. Not to mention, smaller offices may lack the space to build such a thing in the first place.
But what if the “room” was more of a booth?
What if it was also portable, soundproof, and came readily equipped with an adjustable desk for ergonomics, built-in lighting, ventilation, plug points, and more?
These were the elements that the core team of interior designers at Malaysian startup, Enbooth wanted to keep when creating their proprietary work pod, also called the Enbooth.
When our team was ready to return to our newly-renovated office after two years of WFH, having an Enbooth was on our bucket list, and the Enbooth team graciously sponsored a unit.
It’s now been an integral part of our office for the past one month that we’ve been back, and here’s our experience of using it so far.
Fitting the office flow
Standing at over 2m tall with 10 sq. ft. of space to fit an individual comfortably, the Enbooth is compact enough to be placed in most office corners, or even in the middle of a room along a wall.
Whether you know exactly where you want it placed or are at a loss for ideas though, the Enbooth customer care team is easily contactable through their website to help you make the best decision for your space.
We decided the best spot for the Enbooth based on our office layout was at the midpoint where our colleagues on either end of the office could freely utilise it.
Though it’s not backed into a corner, it never once felt like it was awkwardly jutting out from the middle of the room, blocking the “flow” of the area.
Note that the Enbooth needs to be plugged into a single socket in order to power its ventilation, lighting, and own charging ports. An extension cable can be used too if a socket is more than 1m away from where you want the Enbooth placed.
Our office has a clean and simple look, utilising white for a spacious feel, and a deep green for a touch of colour that’s close to nature. Complementing those are beige and sandy wood furniture.
Customisation is available for the cuboid exterior, whether it’s in terms of colour, patterns, or to match the other wooden furniture in your office. These premium laminate finishes come from Maica, a Malaysian company that’s been specialising in the product since 1968.
To match ours though, we felt that the classic colourway, a slightly off-white door with dark wooden sides, already exemplified the clean-with-a-touch-of-nature vibe of our office.
Sans customisation, our Enbooth was ready for deployment in the span of two weeks, while a customised booth may take up to 20 working days. According to Enbooth, the booths are also fully made by skilled local carpenters.
Enter the Enbooth
To enter the Enbooth, there’s a push/pull door that shuts seamlessly and softly thanks to strong magnets that line its frame.
Other soundproofing features in the booth include the tempered glass on the door, and the lining and acoustic panels used along the walls.
The tempered glass also lets in extra light, alleviates any potential claustrophobia, allows the occupant to stay tuned to what’s going on outside, and enables passing colleagues to note that the booth is occupied.
For the interior walls, rockwool, a material typically used in buildings for sound and heat insulation, and 8mm acoustic panelling are used. Working together, these elements are supposed to reduce ambient noise to up to 20 decibels.
The simplest way I can explain the experience of entering the Enbooth is that it’s like putting on a pair of ambient noise-cancelling (ANC) earphones, except that the ANC envelops your entire body and not just your ears.
If someone tries to talk to you through the closed Enbooth door, you’ll know that they’re talking to you too, though you won’t be able to easily discern what they’re saying.
While it cuts out ambient noise well, the noise of someone laughing or talking particularly loudly can still be heard, but more muffled.
On one occasion, my colleague Rikco had to do a call through loud next-door drilling and popped into the Enbooth to see if it would help.
Using a pair of reliable earphones helped reduce the drilling to a rough “humming” noise, and thankfully, his receiver on the other end of the call didn’t notice the noise at all.
One last thing regarding the Enbooth’s soundproofing is that when you’re taking a call in it, you might note a very slight echo that’s probably due to the unpadded door, but overall, it never impacts our call quality.
Ergonomics & electronics kept in mind
In terms of physical comfort, the Enbooth is spacious enough for calls and some quick work.
Rikco noted that for his size, the adjustable Enbooth table felt a bit small. But seeing as it’s not meant to be anyone’s long-term personal work space anyway, this isn’t an issue.
Just under the table, one switch turns on everything, from the ventilation to the lighting and the charging ports.
One main qualm that we’ve experienced thus far is that the ventilation could be stronger. It would start to feel stuffy after sitting in the booth for more than 15 minutes.
It’s an easy problem to solve, we put a small portable fan on the desk to help. If that isn’t enough for some, the floor space is able to accommodate a small floor fan.
A seat isn’t included with the Enbooth, but you don’t need to overthink what chair height to buy because you can always adjust the ergonomic table inside to match it. Alternatively, you could also buy an adjustable chair so that everyone else in the office can find their best ergonomic fit.
Adjusting the table is relatively simple with nothing to unscrew. You just need to carefully detach the table from the divots on the wall and slot it into ones that give you your desired table height.
To sum it up, the Enbooth can be described as a soundproofed “room” where the lighting, ventilation, and socket are already built-in, with an ergonomic (manual) sit-stand table for working at.
Probably best of all, it can be disassembled and moved around in the office if we ever decide to switch up our layout, or move into a new office space.
Assembly in experienced hands take about 45 minutes, and for those who are within the Klang Valley, the Enbooth team is happy to help out.
For us personally, the entire set-up took less than an hour, so we had a ready-to-use private call and work booth deployed in the morning.
Needless to say, we’re really happy with our Enbooth and will continue to fully utilise it for as long as it stands, so if you think your office needs one too, you can contact them at +6012-563 4435, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.