In the modern office, where photographers, lawyers, and mobile application developers all share space and office kitchens are stocked with micro-roasted coffee and organic snacks, one old-fashioned amenity is making a comeback: the phone booth.
The humble telephone booth was once so ubiquitous that Clark Kent used it as his changing room to become Superman — until the cellphone relegated it to relic status. The phone booth, however, still has one big advantage of over phones that let you talk anywhere. Privacy. As a result, many co-working spaces are installing phone booths, sans phones.
At Commoncove in Chelsea, bright aqua-trimmed and glass doors open into a slim stalls equipped with a shelf, a stool, and an electric socket to plug in phone chargers or laptops for Skype calls. At the Workbar in Cambridge, these tiny phone rooms are tucked into otherwise airy spaces. At Oficio on Newbury Street, old rotary-dial pay phones hang in these booths as decorations.
Phone booths play important roles in these co-working spaces, which embrace open floor plans and encourage workers to sit just a few feet from each other on long desks or armchairs. The rooms are geared for collaboration, but less so, for a little peace-and-quiet.
Charlie Weisman, co-founder of Oficio, LLC, has worked out of coffee shops in the past and knows how difficult it can be to chat with a client, with the hum of conversation happening all around.
“You’d have to go outside, walk around the corner, or go down into an alley,” Weisman said.”You want a place where you could close the door.”
The designers of these spaces, however, have made sure that the phone booths aren’t too comfortable, discouraging workers from staying too long or using them as naprooms.
Anthony Crisafulli, 30, a photographer who works out of Oficio, uses the phone booth everytime he wants to discuss prices and projects with his clients.
“My level of focus is better in the phone booth,” Crisafulli said. “There are many people who take a call in the middle of the office. They might as well be having a phone call with me.”