Coworking Phone Booths: The Ultimate Guide

Everything you need to know about coworking’s hottest product offering
By Kelly K
April 26, 2024
Phone booths in coworking spaces

The year is 2014 and WeWork is expanding rapidly around the globe. Freelancers and digital nomads seek out these spaces as a place to hang with interesting people, play pingpong, and sip kombucha on tap before signing off at 3pm.

For the next six years, coworking forges on as the rebel younger cousin to the corporate office, positioning itself as a better, more balanced, and most importantly, more fun place to work.

Then COVID happens, the world moves to a remote-first way of working, and both the office and coworking undergo radical changes, rethinking what they are and who they serve in a very short period of time.

Now four years later, coworking is bigger than ever. But while WeWork thrived on drop-in memberships and a casual “work” atmosphere, today’s coworking spaces promote private offices and a calming productive environment free from distractions. 

Today, remote workers need a place to work, and that place is a coworking space. They also need a place to take calls – and that place is a phone booth.

In this article, we’ll share with you everything you need to know about the coworking phone booth, including what it is, why it’s booming in popularity, and most importantly, how to avoid the dreaded coworking phone booth abuse. In this new era of coworking, having phone booths is essential to success, and in this article, we’ll show you how to do it properly.

What is a coworking phone booth?

A coworking phone booth is a dedicated space designed for individuals to take a phone call during their work day.

There are no hard and fast rules for what is and isn’t considered a phone booth. However, the general guidelines for creating an effective phone space include:

  • At least 10-15 sq ft
  • Comfortable to be in for longer periods of time
  • Sound-proof
  • Includes a chair and/or a table

If you are just starting a coworking space, it is important that your space includes at least one dedicated phone area, if not more. We’ll go into the reasons why below.

Why are phone booths popular in coworking spaces?

Remote workers are flocking to coworking spaces in droves in search of a flexible office environment and a rich community of like-minded individuals. While they may not need a private office for the entire day, they certainly need a space to take a Zoom call or two.

This shift in the coworking demographic is leaving many operators to rethink their product offerings entirely, leaning heavily into private offices, meeting rooms, and of course phone booths, as a way of meeting this growing need.

Phone booths are the perfect place for remote workers on Zoom to take a call in confidence, without disrupting others in the space. They’re a popular product for coworkers, and operators should capitalize on the demand.

If you’re just starting to design your coworking space, consider having lots of areas for quiet phone calls right off the bat.

For more information on how to find the right mix of products for your coworking space, check out this article we wrote for our partners over at ezeep.

Benefits of phone booths in coworking spaces

Benefits of Coworking Phone Booth

Think of a phone booth as a small meeting room with a specific purpose. Both meeting rooms and phone booths provide a private space for people to conduct confidential matters related to their job, they just exist on different scales.

Offering phone rooms to book in your space can help you:

  • Attract and retain members through a diversified offering
  • Support the mental health of members needing a quiet space
  • Prevent frustration from other members creating too much noise
  • Drive additional revenue

Many of our clients tell us that phone booths are their number one resource in their space. But with popularity can come challenges with abuse (more on that later on).

Types of phone booths

There are many different types of coworking phone booths, from converted closets to external office pods. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular styles below. 

1. Traditional phone booth

The traditional office phone booth typically resembles a micro office. It is about the size of a small closet and includes a glass door, a comfortable chair, and a small table if space allows.

Traditional phone booths are a part of the floor plan from the beginning, and built into the structure of the space itself. Because of this, it is unlikely you will be able to opt for this route if your space is already built out.

However, if you’re just in the beginning phases of designing your coworking space, then adding in a few phone booths is a great way to maximize space utilization.

2. Converted den or closet

Does your space have an underutilized den or closet? Turn it into a phone booth!

With a few modifications, a small closet can become a phone booth in no time. Replace your solid door with a glass one, sound-proof the room, and add a way for air to flow and you’ll be all set.

It’s a great way to create additional value for your members (and profit for you) in your space.

3. DIY phone booth

Many operators have opted to build their own phone booths using a wide variety of do-it-yourself tactics. 

These DIY phone booths are able to stand on their own and are often made using a combination of materials from a home supply store.

A DIY phone booth is certainly not for everyone, but it may be for you if:

  • You are on a tight budget
  • You have a small space with limited room
  • You have the resources to create a phone booth in-house
  • Your space is already built out and you want a quick and easy way to create phone booths

The DIY phone booth is the most affordable and practical solution for most operators. They allow for lots of creativity and flexibility in your space design. 

However, they can also be quite the project to take on. Consider your resources before committing to creating your own booths – you may save money on materials, but you could make that up with labor costs.

4. Phone booth “pod”

Coworking Phone Booth Pod

When you think of a phone booth in a coworking environment, chances are you’re thinking of an external phone booth or pod.

Phone booth pods are a trendy addition to the coworking design world. These types of booths have exploded in popularity in recent years because of their beautiful design and ability to move easily in and out of a space.

These external pods are typically around 15 sq ft and include a chair, built-in desk, and glass door. They boast a large number of amenities including:

  • Sound insulation and soundproofing
  • Power outlets and external port
  • Motion sensing
  • Strong ventilation system

They claim a 40% reduction in congested meeting room space and are a great, stylish option for anyone who is looking for an external phone booth with minimum space.

Despite its compelling features, it is important to note that these pods are an investment. They start around $5,000 USD each on the lower end and increase sharply depending on the size and style of the pod. 

With that being said, if you have the budget for it and you’re looking for ways to elevate your brand, then this may be a good option for you to consider.

Check out this article on 15 coworking design ideas to see how one of our clients utilizes phone booths in their space.

How can you monetize your coworking phone booths?

There are many different ways you can think about monetizing what you offer in your space. We like to group these into three different categories, as outlined in the table below.

Definition Example
Included in membership plan (unlimited) Members receive unlimited access to phone booths in their membership plan $249 a month for unlimited hot desking and phone booth use
Included in membership plan (limited) Members receive a limited number of phone booth hours per month $199 a month for unlimited hot desking and 10 hours a month of phone booth use
Available as an add-on for all Phone booth hours can be purchased on-demand for members and non-members, with different pricing for each group $15 an hour with a maximum of 2 hours a day for members

$30 an hour with a maximum of 2 hours a day for non-members

Available as an add-on for members only Phone booth hours can be purchased on-demand for members only $15 an hour with a maximum of 2 hours a day for members

Because phone booths are a service to both the people who use them and everyone else in the space, most operators choose to offer at least some phone booth times as part of their membership plan.

This works out nicely because it is an enticing perk for members, and it enables operators to charge more for the base cost of a membership, whether members use the phone booth or not.

How to prevent coworking phone booth abuse

There’s no way around it – offering phone booths in your space is likely to come with phone booth abuse. It is one of the most common complaints that we hear from our clients, and they’re always looking for creative ways of combating this problem.

Here are some ideas around how to mitigate the dreaded phone booth abuse.

1. Make it a bookable resource in your coworking space app

While it is nice to have phone booths available ad hoc, most operators find requiring members to book it makes it much easier for them to manage.

If you’re worried about people taking advantage of your phone rooms, then make it a bookable resource using your coworking space app. This would require a member to book a time in the phone booth, just as they would with a meeting room or desk.

Consider setting up an automated resource booking system to make this experience as seamless as possible. Create a QR code that you can place in your phone booths for users to scan and book on the fly.

Learn how Optix can help you automate resource booking for your community. 

2. Create a time limit (and enforce it)

Phone booths are intended to be for quick calls or meetings throughout the day. For that reason, you may want to consider creating a time limit for your phone booths to encourage this behavior.

  • If the phone booth is first come first served, then have clear signs stating the maximum allowable time per person per day
  • If the phone booth can be booked automatically through a coworking app, then limit the length of time which someone can make a booking, and set how long they have to wait (i.e. 24 hours) before they can book it again

Having a time limit and clearly stating it from the beginning can help you to avoid awkward conversations with people overstaying their limit. This brings us to our next point.

3. Set expectations early

Create Coworking House Rules

Regardless of how you choose to manage them, it’s crucial to set expectations for your phone booths right from the beginning.

Setting house rules around the use of popular resources during member onboarding can save you a lot of headaches in managing phone booth misuse later on.

You can also print and post friendly reminders around the space letting people know how they should be using the phone booth. This can help remind new members on how to interact with the resources in the space.

4. Charge extra for overage

Charging for overuse can be uncomfortable for some operators, especially if they have a community-first approach. However, it is a firm but fair rule that can serve as a gentle push to prevent people from misusing your space.

Overuse charges are best served when they are:

  • Communicated from the beginning
  • Included in the contract
  • Enforced consistently

That way, members will be less likely to feel as if they are being treated unfairly, as your house rules will clearly state what happens if people misuse your resources.

5. Manage access using a door access control system

Kisi and Optix integration

Many operators find a lot of success in managing resources through an automated door access control system like Kisi

This system can allow you to control who has access to which resources and when, so members are only given access to the space at their scheduled time.

If you are managing your space using coworking software like Optix, then you can integrate it with your door access control system and seamlessly control who can access your phone booth and when based on when they booked it.

Note that this solution only works for those booths that have your access control system installed on them. Learn more about Optix access control integrations here.

Phone booths are essential in every modern coworking space

Today, every coworking space requires a comfortable mix of open and quiet spaces in order to attract the ideal audience. Whether you’re new to coworking or are a seasoned pro, it’s highly recommended that you consider adding a phone booth (or two) to your arsenal of offerings.

In doing so, you can better serve your members and provide an outstanding user experience to those in your space. 

Learn more about Optix can help you better serve members in your coworking community. 

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