Open space planning is common, workers have become accustomed to a cubicle lifestyle, and management has benefited from cost savings. 

Noise and other distractions may ultimately be hurting productivity, however,  and you may be suffering from a lack of privacy when you need to make a personal call or just escape from co-workers without leaving the building.

According to NPR, 74% percent of workers report being distracted in open spaces and that people who work in them tend to take more sick days. The Chicago Tribune declared noise pollution "the new secondhand smoke."

Additionally, when you leave your workplace to attend a conference, you can't really escape the din -- unless you happen to be at one where you can find a Room -- literally.

Room made its debut at the Collision Conference and it's basically a $3,000 modern-day version of a phone booth. Placed throughout the show floor and the media lounge, these free-standing structures (which weigh 400 pounds and can be assembled using a simple tool -- like Ikea furniture) give users a relatively soundproof place to make calls, concentrate on work, or just hide out and eat lunch. The company claims to have orders from many companies who need to provide privacy for employees but don't want to invest in construction. Nike is currently testing the Room. Other companies entering the phone booth manufacturing business include Zenbooth, Cubicall, Nomad, and TalkBox.

BuddhaBooth is a variation on the theme. Their zen-like structures are available for both sale or rent and they popped-up at Coachella this year. One of their models is called the Clarity Capsule and founder Francine Steadman Krulak designs her booths with an eye on relaxation and calm, not just functionality. She is targeting schools and hospitals as well as tech companies, focusing as much on the mental health aspects of escape as on the architecture.

What if a booth doesn't quite do the trick? Perhaps you need to escape the office or conference world completely, relax, and come up with a billion dollar idea. Investor and environmentalist Julien Fruchier converted a group of villas in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, to a "technology Camp David" called Skypad, where visitors can think big thoughts, unplug, and entrench themselves in natural beauty.

Can't afford a retreat or a booth? Of course, you can buy some new ear buds and download Ananda, which Hubspot recommends as one of the best 14 relaxation apps for salespeople.

Published on: May 17, 2018
The opinions expressed here by columnists are their own, not those of