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Once ubiquitous with the past, phone booths are back in a big way and not just coming into the modern era but indeed leading the way into the future.

One of the last relics of the old NYC phone booths (The New York Times)

With open floor plans firmly here to stay, workplaces have increasingly become more communal than private. Concepts like teamwork and collaboration have fostered in new levels of productivity. However, this tremendous fluidity and change away from traditional workplaces has not been without sacrifice. One of the biggest losses along the road has been privacy. When in public spaces, where can one go to take a private phone call? Privacy is still important. Confidential work and personal conversations still occur on a daily basis and in the wonderfully collaborative settings of today’s world, often the only option is to duck (literally) outside to a public street or hide away in a hallway.

The phone booth has always had privacy within its design. The original versions yes, featured the payphone (you put coins in and actually dial a number, from memory!) but also featured three walls and a door. So calls could be shielded from outside noise and some privacy could be given to the user. The modern phone booth has taken this concept from its earlier iterations and advanced it exponentially. Now, instead of ducking into public streets or hallways, phone booth users can enter a space that is comfortable, private, and completely soundproof. And features like automatic ventilation, seating, shelving with charging capabilities, and privacy glass switches elevate the phone booths of today into the realm of tomorrow.

As we learned in previous blog posts on acoustic importance in the workplace, sound quality is a key to productivity in the workplace. Too much distracting noise can cause worker productivity to plummet. For cubicle-based offices, noise distraction from coworkers’ phone calls is a significant distractor. Walk into cubicle-based office floors and chances are a high number of employees will be working with headphones on. Headphones have become one of the only ways workers can get some relief from distracting noises and also feel some privacy in open environments.

The phone booth is here both to bring some privacy and civility back into work settings and also to utilize technology to create a new and exciting staple for the modern public space. The future called, it said to say phone booths are here to stay.