Meeting Pods Buying Guide

Contents

Intro

What are meeting pods?

Why choose meeting pods

The benefits of collaboration in the workplace

Why breakout spaces work

Acoustic management in the office

Questions to ask before shopping for a meeting pod

General best practices when buying meeting pods

Further information

Intro

Meeting pods are flexible spaces that offer privacy and acoustic control and can be integrated into almost any office space. They are often used as breakout areas or small, private meeting spaces that can be repurposed or moved as needed and which don’t carry the cost of structural work such as building walls to create meeting rooms.

They come in a variety of styles such as acoustic or cocoon pods for small teams as well as solo pods that are ideal for creating areas where staff members can pop away from their desk to relax or make private phone calls.

You can also buy huddle pods which are comprised of flexible acoustic screens that come in an almost endless variety of configurations and which can also be used as screens that break up a space and baffle noise.

Meeting pods offer many benefits and can actually contribute to a more motivational, healthy and productive workspace and offer many advantages to fixed meeting rooms.

In this buying guide, we’ll take a look at the various style of meeting pods available and cover their many benefits. We’ll also look at how they can contribute to a more collaborative culture in the workplace; as well as why that benefits you as a business.

We’ll look broadly at how breakout areas can improve your office space and cover some key points on acoustic management and sound control.

Following from that, we’ll give you a series of important questions to ask that will help you to narrow down your search for the perfect meeting pods, as well as a best practice guide for choosing a supplier.

By following the information in this buying guide, you’ll understand the many benefits of meeting pods and get all the information you need to help you to make a purchase.

What are meeting pods?

Meeting pods are flexible private meeting spaces that can be integrated into any existing office layout. Usually used as part of a hybrid open-plan workspace, they are used as breakout areas or for hosting small private meetings but without the cost and space required to build walled rooms.

They are flexible enough to be used in a variety of configurations, making them suitable for any workspace and, because they are often available in a wide range of colours, can act as a fantastic way to extend your brand and corporate identity into the office.

Meeting pods are a great way of enabling teams of staff to get together and collaborate in peace and without distracting other workers at their desks. They are usually designed to be comfortable and cost, giving meeting members a sense of privacy and ownership, as well as helping with team building. They are suited to formal meetings, informal get-togethers and even as breakout spaces for relaxation, games and workshops.

Since they are self-contained units, they can be installed anywhere you have enough space and they are relatively easy to move if you decide to change the layout of the office. They work incredibly well in modern, technology-drive hybrid office spaces, giving workers the autonomy to decide how and when they use their space, something that has been shown to have a positive effect on stall morale, employee wellness, productivity and business performance.

If you’re considering making the office a more flexible space and would like to allow staff the choice in how they use their workspace, it’s a perfect time to consider installing one or more meeting pods. They come in a variety of styles, each of which has its own benefits.

Acoustic Pods

In the modern, busy office, sound leakage can be a big problem. If your office has an open plan layout, the cumulative noise of a large number of staff talking on phones, typing on keyboards, conversing with each, printing and a host of other noisy tasks can make the office a distracting place.

Meeting pods are most useful when they both block out the office noise allowing teams to work and meet in peace and when they also baffle noise coming from the meeting pod so that it doesn’t interfere with other staff members who are working at their desks.

Acoustic pods help you to manage this situation by absorbing background ambient noise. Using acoustic materials and design shapes, they reduce the noise both coming from within and without the pod. They are often available as single, modular seats that can be reconfigured into any number of pod sizes, making them incredibly flexible.

You could seat two together for one-to-one meetings, singly for people to use when on their break or in multiples that allow for whole teams to get together for collaboration and meetings. Their flexibility also means that you can try out a number of configurations and, if one isn’t being used so much, it can be reconfigured to match more popular areas.

This saves on time and budget; installing a permanent area runs the risk of being poorly designed for the needs of staff so that it becomes underutilised. As they are delivered in single units, they easily fit through doorways too, so there are less barriers to having them installed easily.

You can also choose to have power and data ports installed, making them truly self-contained units; staff members can easily plug in laptops, projectors or any other piece of technology that would help them to carry out their meetings.

Cocoon Pods

Cocoon pods are a premium version of acoustic pods. They differ in that they are a self-contained unit with a high back and a ceiling. They are designed as sofas making them incredibly comfortable, each unit seating up to three people.

They can be used in combination with each other too; back to back to form booths, or facing each other to create truly cosy and private working areas. They can be used with or without tables.

Cocoon pods can also be fitted with power and data ports making it easy to add technology for meetings and, for a truly versatile and self-contained meeting pod, you can also choose to add a media presentation panel to the pod, allowing you to add a screen or TV for presentations.

They offer even greater acoustic features making them more private and cutting down on noise that might interfere with other workers and they are easy to move around and reconfigure as required.

Solo Pods

Solo pods are individual, tubular versions of cocoon pods, designed for use as personal touchdown or breakout spaces. They are designed to reduce peripheral vision and have acoustic properties to cut down on noise.

They have a swivel design which allows users to turn away from noise or distraction which makes them ideal for solo Skype calls or personal phone calls, or when someone needs some privacy, perhaps to concentrate on a difficult or important task.

Solo pods have an open top structure that allows just the right amount of ambient light through. They have a small footprint so they are ideal for offices where space is at a premium and will fit through any door for easy installation. They can be relocated with ease too, making them incredibly flexible and versatile.

Huddle Pods

Huddle pods are meeting pods that are constructed using any kinds of seating and table configurations but with movable screens. These come in a variety of sizes and degrees and can be used for anything from a small standing area for private phone calls or secluded and private seated meeting areas.

They are ideal for open plan offices and can even be configured to form screening that separates teams or departments. The number of screens and degrees of coverage you choose means that there is an almost endless number of configurations in which huddle pods can be used.

Office Furniture Online offers a free space planning and CAD design serve from our team to help you to design the perfect solution for your office space. Just call our sales team on 0844 248 7001 for more information.

High back booths

High back booths are perhaps less configurable than cocoon pods, for example; however, they are designed to be more comfortable and plush, with deep foam padding. The high backs baffle noise and acoustically shield the space and they come in single seater or two-seater booth varieties.

They are heavier so it is less easy to manoeuvre them around as required; instead, these are designed for fixed, carefully planned spaces. Be aware that their size will require you to measure your doors and hallways to ensure that there is access and space to install the furniture.

Why choose meeting pods

Meeting pods are a fairly new trend in office design and you could be forgiven for feeling tentative about adding them to your workspace. Some might worry that this is just a flash-in-the-pan trend and that you could end up shelling out a significant amount of money for large-scale furniture pieces that are rarely used.

Thankfully, however, many companies have already started using meeting pods and report great results. They report many benefits of installing meeting pods into their workspaces.

To begin with, let’s take a look at some of the best uses for meeting pods. Typical meeting rooms are set up with a number of tables in the middle of the room and seats around either side. This often sets up a fairly hierarchical structure with the leader or facilitator sitting at the “head” of the table.

Not only that, but the space between attendees is increased by the combined tables between them. Meeting pods, on the other hand, tend to be less hierarchical by design, with smaller groups and with attendees facing each other. The facilitator is encouraged to run meetings in a way that elicits more collaboration between members than simply talking and giving directions.

The close proximity and the comfort of meeting pods improves team building and lends themselves well to a more informal, creative meeting and are ideal for strategic planning. Because the pods are customisable, participants can be involved in setting up the space to suit their needs.

Motivational

Meeting pods are intrinsically more motivational than other office design solutions. Large modern companies tend to have vast open plan offices where it can be easy to get lost in the crowd, feel faceless and less valued and overall more likely to be demotivated.

Latest thinking from writers like Dan Pink in Drive shows us that we are more motivated by intrinsic factors like autonomy and self-ownership, purpose and creativity than extrinsic factors like money and reward. In a large organisation, often the only way to achieve this satisfactorily is to allow workers to break down into smaller, more flexible and collaborative teams.

Meeting pods often even greater flexibility than simply sticking a bunch of tables together and calling it a ‘team’. Instead, they allow workers to form a variety of groups on the basis of, say, project or task-specific work or on the basis of roles.

This ‘fractal’, pod-like structure gives staff more sense of autonomy, ownership of the direction of the business, the ability to feel creative and, importantly, less invisible and more valued.

Advantages over meeting rooms

The problem with most meeting rooms is that they are fixed spaces; if you want a meeting room, you need to build walls. This kind of structural work is costly, distracting and time-consuming. Not only that, it’s also completely inflexible; once the room is built, you’re stuck with it, whether it is utilised well or not.

The benefit of most meeting rooms in the past was that they could be well fitted-out for a variety of purposes, particularly with power and data points and for AV technology. This allows for high profile presentations and discussions.

However, modern meeting pods offer all the advantages of meeting rooms, including optional ports and presentation fittings, with none of the disadvantages. Let’s face it, the modern workforce has already adapted to flexible technologies like working from laptops, using the cloud and communicating via instant real-time messaging or VoiceOverIP systems and video chat like Skype or Hangouts.

Isn’t it time the physical space started to look more like the digital one?

Meeting pods offer that kind of flexibility.

Things to watch out for

As with any new change in the workspace, be prepared for it to take some time before meeting pods are fully adopted by your workforce. The informal and unstructured environments may require a cultural shift in the mindsets of staff who are more used to formal, hierarchical meetings.

They’ll not only need to get used to the flexibility and adaptability of the meeting pods, they also have to learn to become more flexibility themselves; and you, as manager, will need to encourage and foster that new attitude.

The best way to ensure that meeting pods are utilised well is to involve your workforce in the process. Staff surveys, meeting and informal chats can help you to find out what features your staff want and will use and discussing it with them during the design, selection and purchasing process will mean they are prepared for the arrival of the pods.

Then, once the pods are installed, you should ‘christen’ them by encouraging people to set up their own working groups for specific tasks or projects. Allow them to use the space, form their own groups, manage and run the meetings themselves, setting some boundaries for them such as ensuring they book the space and that meetings run for a fixed period of time.

This will prevent over-utilisation, which is a fancy word for people getting too comfortable in the spaces. Ensure at the start that the meeting pods are used wisely and you’ll find that they soon become a welcome fixture in the office.

The benefits of collaboration in the workplace

So, we’ve looked at some of the advantages of meeting pods over fixed meeting rooms, and one of the main factors that is often discussed is improved collaboration; but what is collaboration, and why is it important in the office space and for your business?

What is collaboration?

Whether you are aware of it or not, collaboration already fuels the growth of your business. On any given day, managers, employees, business partners, clients and customers are all working together to help make your business a success.

Collaboration is simply the practice of people working together with a common purpose to achieve a benefit. It tends to happen whether you actively promote it or not; no business could function without two or more people working together.

However, the crucial thing to consider is how effective collaboration is for your business. Without focusing on collaboration and finding ways to improve it, you could be missing out. In the modern world, successful businesses are described as being creative, agile and flexible and a large part of that stems from how stakeholders collaborate with each other.

If you’ve just been assuming that collaboration happens and haven’t considered why you should be giving it more importance, read on.

How can collaboration improve your business?

Self-awareness

On both a personal and corporate level, self-awareness is critical; you have to know where you are now to work out both where you want to go, and how you get there.

Collaboration, or working with others, forces you to ask questions of yourself. In order to collaborate well, you need to know where your skills lie and what you can bring to the table that is of benefit to others, and you also need to understand your weaknesses.

Understanding the latter can teach you how to ask for help or make strategic alliances; understanding the former can help you to promote yourself better.

Combining resources

One person chipping away at a difficult task can take a long time; add in a second person and it will be quicker. Distribute that task amongst many people and you’ll not only get through it in record time, you’ll also gain the benefit of a host of skills, knowledge and experience that one person could never hope to have on their own.

Collaboration means sharing resources already available to you, and it’s one of the reasons why project working and management has become so popular. Don’t be defined by the current business structure; instead, create new working teams for each new project in the business that is made of the best people for the job.

Friction is good

Conflict can be turned into “creative abrasion,” a term coined by Jerry Hirsch, formerly an executive designer at Nissan. What he meant by this is that friction of any kind is an energetic exchange; encourage different types of people to work and collaborate together can produce a new kind of energy that results in creative solutions and new ideas.

The bigger picture

Collaboration isn’t all about the successes; just because something didn’t work once doesn’t mean it won’t work again. Learn from all collaboration, success and failures, and you’ll gain useful information for the future.

Perhaps a working team weren’t quite successful at getting a project off the ground. That doesn’t mean you should ditch the idea of collaborative practice altogether; maybe you’ll realise that the team would have been better suited to a different kind of task, or you come away with information on how group dynamics work that can help you to build a better-performing team next time round.

Learning

Successful companies learn all the time and it’s because they have a structure that cultivates learning in their employees and also support them by having safety nets in case people fail. Conversely, a culture of blame and failure can disincentivise people from learning which over time results in stagnation.

Originality

Original thinking tends to result from new connections being made. Leaps of logic and sparks of genius happen when different voices, specialties and opinions come together to try and solve a problem. The smart business deliberately creates environments for this kind of creative thinking to occur and harnesses the outcomes to forge new paths ahead.

Innovation

Using innovative tools for collaboration can encourage all of the above to happen. Informal meeting pods, real-time messaging and a host of other technological innovations (see: How do people become more collaborative at work?) can not only encourage collaboration to happen but can harness it in new ways and encourage people to think differently.

ROI

If you’re not focusing on and measuring ROI (Return on Investment) properly, you’re wandering around in the dark. Implement proper processes for measuring ROI and you’ll be able to see quickly just how beneficial collaboration can be.

How do people become more collaborative at work?

There are a multitude of ways in which staff members and stakeholders can collaborate with each other, but let’s focus on technology.

Synchronous

Synchronous collaboration technology is that where people engage with each other in real time. You’re probably already using some of these tools. Online meetings, real-time instant messaging that can be separated into “rooms” or channels such as in Slack, video messaging through Skype are all fantastic ways of encouraging employees to talk to and engage with each other.

Asynchronous

Conversely, these are tools where people can collaborate but not in real time. Examples include Google Docs or shared workspaces where one person can work on a document or project and then, at a later date, someone else can annotate, add comments or make alterations.

Each of these types has its advantages and an agile business would make use of a variety of both. There are times when it would be more advantageous to have everyone “live”, for instance in brainstorming or strategy sessions. However, it is also useful to have collaboration happen on a slower basis; where someone can take the time to work on a project but share it widely for feedback, for example.

How do you become a more collaborative employer?

Lead by example

When it comes to collaboration, you have to walk the walk. Don’t just tell your employees to be collaborative, have them follow your example by using collaborative methods and technologies yourself. Don’t just feed information down the chain; allow staff members to be involved during decision making. Equally, allow yourself to be vulnerable by asking questions and making suggestions that might seem a little off-the-wall; this will put staff at ease and recognise that there are no “stupid” questions or suggestions.

Balance individual benefit and corporate benefit

When you’re trying to encourage staff to be more collaborative, don’t focus on the business gains. While you might have a loyal, motivated workforce, people will have less ownership of a shift in business culture if they don’t see how it can benefit them.

Put strategy first

Don’t be seduced by flashy technology and collaborative tools if you don’t have a proper strategy in place for how they will be used. You, and critically your employees, need to understand why you are doing something well in advance of how. Collaboration is easy to start without any expenditure.

Step back

If collaboration is to work properly, employees need to not only have ownership but also a sense of autonomy. Allow them to experiment and find the best ways to collaborate without you constantly looking over their shoulder.

Listen

Involve your employees at every stage when you’re implementing a new collaborative culture, but don’t just talk to them; listen to their worries, their suggestions and their needs, and make sure you integrate what you learn from them. Collaboration starts with you.

Why breakout spaces work

One of the easiest ways to encourage collaboration amongst employees is with the use of breakout spaces. Most companies already have some form of breakout space in the form of a canteen or dining area, but having a variety of spaces that allow employees to talk and work together away from their desks can be incredibly beneficial.

Better use of space

Your real estate is one of your largest expenditures as a business, so it’s important that you make full use of it and get a return on investment. The older style of office, even an open plan one, usually incorporates fixed meeting rooms with many tables and chairs. While these can be great for a specific purpose, they aren’t all that useful for other things.

That means that on any given day, you probably have large amounts of space in the office lying empty. With breakout spaces, those “rooms” can be repurposed into flexible spaces that have a variety of uses. Breakout areas can be used as relaxation areas for staff who want to get away from their desks, quiet spaces where people can get away from teams to focus on intricate or complex tasks, informal team areas for games and team building sessions or collaborative spaces for strategy sessions.

And the best thing about breakout areas? With the right design and furniture, one space can be all of these things.

Flexible

The best breakout areas will incorporate furniture that can be moved around. That not only means that they can be used for a variety of purposes, but that staff can reconfigure these at will. We don’t often consider how important it is to have ownership of our space, but allowing workers to shift spaces around to suit their needs can give them a sense of ownership.

The ability to repurpose a space each time it is used also contributes to a sense of feeling creative. That encourages creative thinking, but it also makes staff members feel valued; too often in the office we feel cramped in terms of our thinking and feel that we don’t have enough time to be creative.

Improved morale

Breakout areas where members of staff can choose to get away from their desk for a while, share a drink with their colleagues or sit and read a book for ten minutes can significantly improve morale. Not only that, but employees will recognise both the effort and expense that you’ve invested in them.

This improves loyalty and morale which in turn has a positive effect on productivity. It’s incredibly simple when you stop to think about it; if we’re working hard for an employer who seems not to care, over time our motivation will diminish and it will be increasingly difficult to “top it up” without a series of rewards.

However, if we feel that our employer prioritises their workforce and is willing to invest in it, it takes a lot more to shake our motivation and we’ll be generally more productive with less need for reward.

Reduced stress

Employee wellness isn’t just the latest HR trend, it should be your number one priority. The simple, hard fact is that you can’t get the most work out of staff members who are tired, sore and stressed out. Sedentary working life is now seen to heavily contribute to heart disease, diabetes, obesity and musculoskeletal disorders.

Sitting for long periods of time at the desk is not only physically draining but also mentally exhausting. It’s recommended by those who use the Pomodoro technique that we should only spend 30 minutes maximum on any task, breaking that up with a five-minute break from the PC. The average human concentration span only lasts this long and attempts to concentrate beyond this contribute to stress.

Too often employers contribute to a culture of employees working for long stretches of time, only broken up by lunchbreaks or (if we’re lucky) mid-morning or afternoon coffee breaks. If you’re not convinced by this, take a look at your workforce on the average day and see how many toilet or water breaks they take; anything for an excuse to get away from the desk.

Instead of following in the inglorious footsteps of some employers who try to limit this by having staff record comfort breaks as “idle” time and trying to manage that down, you should be encouraging regular, short breaks away from the desk. Far from interrupting the flow of their work, breaking up the day in this manner will ensure they are constantly coming back to work refreshed.

This not only leads to more productive but also better quality and more accurate work.

Providing breakout areas where staff can sit for five minutes and chat to a colleague then get back to work will reduce stress and the chance of physical damage from sitting in the one position for too long.

As ever, though, it will be up to you to set reasonable boundaries. The best way to do this is to involve staff throughout the process of designing and creating a breakout space, getting their “buy-in” and, at the same time, agreement that they won’t abuse their autonomy. That way, everyone wins.

Attract talent

Especially in competitive industries, attracting talent and keeping it is one of the biggest challenges you face as an employer. High turnover of staff results in a vast expenditure on advertising, recruitment and training and you often lost a lot of knowledge and experience too.

One of the most commonly-cited reasons for people leaving a job to move elsewhere isn’t salary, bonus or any other kind of financial reward; it’s actually company culture.

People move because of toxic, negative or stressful cultures more than for any other reason. Installing breakout areas as part of a move towards a culture that puts employee wellness first and which fosters creative, collaborative working will not only keep staff, it will also help you to attract new talent.

Breakout spaces are a fantastic way of advertising your culture too; because they are usually bright and modern in design, they promote your culture and brand in an incredibly visual way. Conduct interviews and recruitment days in your plush, comfortable breakout area and you’ll give a great impression to candidates.

Acoustic management in the office

We experience the world through our five senses but for most people, the degree to which our senses affect us greatly differs. Some people who are more auditory-focused can find it a real challenge working in the modern, open-plan office.

A study in the British Journal of Psychology found that ‘irrelevant noise’ had a significant impact on stress, job satisfaction and on people’s ability to focus on work. This leads to sickness absence, high staff turnover and reduced productivity levels.

That said, an office that is too quiet can also have a negative, unnerving impact.

That’s why it’s crucially important to get acoustic design right in an office. Too many closed off rooms and you’ll have a quiet office and make people feel isolated. Too open-plan and the cumulative noise will be an intrusive distraction.

Variety is key

The best way to create the right sound design in an office to break the space up with a variety of workspaces. Instead of having rows of cubicles, separate teams into pods and break up the space with breakout areas, quiet zones, meeting areas and coffee/canteen spaces.

Balancing these different zones correctly will result in an overall level of acoustic absorption that will let people work and talk without having to either raise their voices or whisper to each other.

Material choices

The materials that make up your office design have a big part to play in how the acoustics of the space work. If you have hard surface flooring, noise will reflect and bounce around the room, whereas softer materials will absorb sounds.

Breaking up the space with storage units, bookcases or screens can help to baffle the noise but be sure not to add too much in the way of solid dividers or you risk getting closer to an office full of individual rooms again.

Breakout areas help to manage acoustics

As outlines earlier, there are a number of ways in which you can use acoustic breakout furniture to help reduce the impact of noise. However, breakout areas help in another way. If you work at a team pod and two of your colleagues get into a conversation about something, no matter how much you think you’re concentrating, you’re not.

Humans instinctively process passive noise, especially conversations. Julian Treasure of The Sound Agency says that we only have the brain-processing bandwidth to concentrate on 1.6 conversations at once. That translates into the face that if you’re even partially focussed on the conversation happening next to you, you’re not fully able to concentrate on your own task.

This is where breakout areas become very useful; if two or more people want to engage in a long chat, they can move away from their colleagues and chat in peace, while allowing the rest of the team to concentrate.

Questions to ask before shopping for a meeting pod

Before you start looking for meeting pod furniture, it’s a good idea to think about your requirements. Spending some time before you buy will potentially save you money in the long run and will ensure that you purchase furniture that is not only fit for you needs but which will also be utilised well by your employees.

Make a full assessment of your existing space and perhaps sketch out some rough ideas, involving as many other people in the process as possible. Work your way through the following questions and you’ll have a great idea of what you need.

How much space/access do you have?

The first thing to consider is how much space you have available to you. This will determine not only the type of furniture you choose but also how many pieces. The space available will also govern whether or not you have the flexibility to set up booths or whether you’ll need to purchase single items that can work modularly together.

You’ll also need to think about access to the office when the items are delivered. For very bulky items, it’s crucial that you measure doors, corridors and corners and compare this with the specifications online for the items you’ve chosen. Do this before you buy! You’d be surprised how many people don’t consider this in advance only to find there is no way to get the furniture into the office.

What is your budget?

Your budget will also be a crucial deciding factor in what you purchase. Breakout areas and meeting pods can be composed of any number of chairs and tables so you can always make do if your budget is limited. We have a full range of items that can be useful in meeting pods and breakout areas, so you might find the perfect combination of seating, tables and screens to create your own bespoke area.

However, if you have the budget to spend, nothing beats purpose-built meeting pod furniture like the styles we outlined earlier in this guide. They have been designed specifically for their flexibility, durability, ease of use and acoustic properties.

They are modern and highly stylish and will give a fantastic impression to visitors and clients as well as creating a great office space for your employees.

How many meeting pods do you need?

You might just be looking to create one meeting pod, or a variety. Since they are so versatile in their uses, one meeting pod could perform a variety of functions or alternatively, you could purchase a number items to be installed in the office, creating different zones.

If you’re looking for an area that is solely used for team meetings, the larger cocoon pods are perfect, while the individual solo pods are great for areas where staff can relax or make private calls; you can install any number of these in an area for even greater flexibility.

High-backed booths work well as both meeting pods and for informal dining or breakout areas.

What will the meeting pods be used for?

Will the meeting pods be used for presentations, client meetings, customers, strategic planning or any other of a host of uses? What you use the pods for will not only govern how many seats and the styles required but also whether you need extras like presentation panels, lighting or power and data points.

Think carefully about the actual uses of the space and imagine how you see people using them and you’ll have a much better idea of what it should look like and the items it should contain.

Do they need to be flexible or fixed?

The heavier the furniture, the less manoeuvrable it will be, so think carefully about how flexible your space needs to be. With purpose-built meeting pods, you can easily move items into new positions and configurations which means your meeting area is endlessly configurable with no effort or risk to health and safety.

Larger pieces of furniture will not be so flexible, so these may be more suitable if you’re looking to create a fixed area. You’ll still have the benefit of private, acoustically-shielded meeting pods, but you won’t have the flexibility to change the space so easily in the future.

Will people need access to technology?

Meeting pods often come with additional extras for those who’ll need access to technology like laptops and projectors. Power points mean access to electricity, while data points mean staff can stay online even if you don’t have Wi-fi in the office.

For areas that will be used regularly for presentations, some styles come with optional presentation panels. These are panels that are situated between two or more pods, designed to integrate visually with the other items. You can hang a screen or TV from these and use them to display visual presentations, cast laptop screens and more.

Will tables or other furniture be needed?

Some meeting pods will only require seating, while others will need work surfaces for collaborative meetings and the like. The choice is yours when it comes to tables (and we have a massive range to choose from) but make sure, like everything else, you plan this in advance.

Low profile coffee tables might look great for your meeting pods, but if people are constantly stretching to reach items, you might perhaps consider a high-profile bistro or breakout table instead.

Will this also be a dining area?

If your meeting pod won’t be used as a dining area, your choice of materials and fabrics is only limited by what the manufacturer offers. However, if people will be dining at these areas too, you should think carefully about the fabrics you use.

Fabrics that are easily maintained and wiped down will save a lot of time, money and manpower over the life of the item if food and drink is spilled, while some fabrics are not at all suited for use in dining areas.

Check the specifications of the item you are thinking about purchasing. Most retailers (ourselves included) will provide full specifications including the types of fabrics and materials used. For some items, we’ll even give you suggestions as to the best uses, which can help you to narrow down your choices.

If you’re not sure if an item is suited to a particular use, you’re welcome to contact our Sales Team. They are always on hand to give you advice on specifications and any other factor that may help you to decide.

General best practices when buying meeting pods

Whenever you’re considering making a large capital expense for your business, you should think carefully before you buy. You want to make sure you get the best value for money, products that will last, fantastic customer service and aftercare and warranties that will reduce the risk of the purchase.

In order to do that, you need to choose the right retailer. Follow our best practice guide for making your meeting pods purchase and you won’t go wrong.

Do your research

There’s a seemingly infinite choice of retailers opened up to us now thanks to the internet and while it great to be able to make your purchase from the comfort of your office, you should ensure that you do a bit of homework before making a decision.

Always check that the retailer is legitimate and trustworthy by looking out for these red flags:

  • Browsers are now designed to flag up disreputable or harmful sites, blocking them for you before you visit. Pay attention to any warning signs you get in your browser.
  • Be wary of sites that offer no customer reviews or feedback
  • Ensure there are head office addresses and phone numbers for a retailer (and not a PO Box)
  • Go with your gut; if a site has lots of bad links, broken images or poor design, spelling or grammar, avoid
  • If prices seem too good to be true, they usually are
  • Watch out for very new businesses as they have no track record

If you’d like to check the authenticity of a site or retailer, one of the easiest ways is to use the ‘whois’ service. This will show you who the site is registered to and how long it has been running. Beware if the registered address belongs to a hosting company; all website owners have the option of hiding their registered address, but retailers shouldn’t do this.

Watch out for very young or new companies; they might be significantly undercutting their rivals to gain a foothold, but you might find they don’t last. That could affect your warranties or guarantees if they go into liquidation, so beware.

Check customer reviews

Trustworthy retailers will often post customer reviews, good and bad, as a way to foster trust and good faith. Such reviews can be a great source of information on products, for example, their suitability for various uses. Check good and bad reviews, but look more at the average than individual scores; some customers like to complain and you’ll often find low scoring reviews that are critical of factors out with the manufacturer or retailer’s control.

At Office Furniture Online, we use the external review site TrustPilot where we score 5 stars on the basis of over 6,000 customer reviews.

Compare prices

Shopping online means you can compare prices easier than ever, so make sure you shop around. However, if you have a preferred retailer but see a price cheaper elsewhere, it’s always worth contacting them to ask if they’ll match the price.

It can also be worth contacting the retailer to ask for a first-time buyer’s discount, or if you’re setting up an account. Many suppliers will offer discounts if there is a possibility of repeat business, so don’t be afraid to ask!

Some retailers will add extras on to your purchase which you won’t often see until just before you complete your sale, so make sure to carefully read the checkout page, and watch for the following:

  • VAT: At 20 per cent in the UK, VAT can add a large chunk onto the cost of your purchase and it isn’t always clear whether it’s included in the advertised price, so check before you buy.
  • Import or export tax: Overseas retailers can often offer much cheaper prices but you could be saddled with a hefty import/export fee that you won’t be aware of until you take delivery of the item.
  • Delivery: Office Furniture Online offers free delivery on most items to UK address, whereas some retailers will include delivery fees, especially for large items.
  • Admin: Admin fees are rare these days but you should still look out for it, especially if you make your purchase on account. Always ask if you’re not sure.

Finally, remember that price isn’t everything. While you want to get the best value, remember to factor in customer service, high quality products and cast-iron warranties or guarantees too when you’re making your purchase.

Further information

We have a full range of meeting pod furniture here at Office Furniture Online, as well as a massive range of other office furniture items that can help to create the perfect meeting or breakout space.

We have upfront pricing, free delivery on most items and full specifications of all our products online. However, if there’s something you’re not sure of, or you need some advice on choosing the right combination of items, our Sales Team would be happy to help.

Just call us on 0844 248 7001, email us on sales@officefunitureonline.co.uk or complete the contact form on our site and someone will get back to you to discuss your requirements.

John

Head of cool things at Office Furniture
Bit of this, bit of that but love cats.

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Author: John