Before you buy “The Room,” ask yourself, is your workplace hell?

You can buy your own office phone booth for $3495. Here is a picture.

This is “The Room,” which has apparently been written up in The New York Times, Time, and Business Insider. It is soundproof, ventilated with a “discreet fan,” mobile, and made out of recycled plastic bottles. Two people can put it together in 30 minutes.

Its features include an LED light, magnetic door, and power outlet. Presumably, you have to supply the WiFi. If you want to see one, go to 594 Broadway, Suite 1106 in New York.

Or, don’t.

If your workplace is so noisy and crowded that you think you need to buy a $3,000 phone booth, work at home.

If you’re at work and you need to talk about your sister-in-law’s leprosy diagnosis, duck into a conference room.

Or, design a better workplace that’s not a sweatshop.

Or, quit and go work somewhere the working conditions aren’t hellish.

The existence of this product is a sign of the office apocalypse. We have reached peak open office.

Can we go back to being humans working together without the need for an office privacy booth?

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  1. I’ve been looking at these booths for a different reason. I work in a bustling academic medical center, and we’ve had a pilot project called Voices of Duke Health listening booth, for facilitating meaningful conversations that can be recorded and shared in a podcast (see and listen at http://www.listeningbooth.info). It’s been [just edited out a weasel word!] difficult to find a space that is quiet, what with all the blowing HVAC and overhead pages and carts rolling down the hallways. Maybe a large soundproof phone booth will solve this. And because these booths aren’t fixed, I can moved it to our other hospitals to record conversations there. So, booth as recording studio.

    On another note, just gave my copy of WB to a colleague to spread your gospel.

    1. As I read about this, I imagined use cases like the one you have described. But they do make it sound like you should just drop one of these in the middle of your open office. Notice the well-put-together model in the picture is not in the middle of an auto shop, factory floor, or medical center, where this product might actually make sense.

  2. They bought the employee at room, but what about the ergonomics of holding a phone like that all day?

  3. I’ve visited a couple of WeWork spaces where they’ve installed a row of phone-less “phone booths along the wall. There pretty much just like a phone booth, that you can take your laptop and cell phone into and close the door for a quiet space for a call or web meeting.

  4. i actually am a big fan of these. working in large, open floor plans like at tech giants or the vast number of tech startups nowadays, you have a choice to take a VC at your desk, where you disturb others, or duck into a conference room. if you are taking up a large conference room, you box out others that could use whiteboards and seating for 6+ peeps. with these phone booths, you can take a 1:1 VC without disturbing your co-workers. but i def do see the “rat in a cage” type concern. have you seen this innovation? now this makes no sense (https://dogparker.com/how-it-works); at least the humans in the office have the choice to duck in and out of the lucite prison.

    1. I think the large open plan offices are the root of the problem.

      I do conference and video calls with a $15 headset. Admittedly, I’m not in a huge crowded office, but I can speak at a normal tone of voice and hear the call without bothering anyone. My $15 headset works with my phone and my computer. A lot less expensive than a $3000 phone booth!

  5. I would greatly appreciate a soundproof place to have private conversations at work, but not in the middle of an open office and not with a clear glass door. The whole point in having a private place is that it is private not a fishbowl in the middle of an office. You don’t want people watching when you are having tearful conversation about end of life arrangements for a terminally ill relative. I don’t work in a hell hole, I just work in a low cost building where the walls on offices are not soundproof and the conference rooms are always busy so we have to pretend we did not overhear other peoples painful conversations from the office next door. Most people use the fire and sound proof stairwell landings for private conversations hoping no one will enter during our conversations. In summary, If it came to a choice of using a glass wall pod in a group office vs the more isolated stairwell landing or remote corner of the parking lot, I’d choose either of the two latter over a pod, so I vote no on “The Room”. On the other hand, it does make sense for the listening booth project mentioned by Anton Zukier.

  6. agreed that headphones are better investment. however, it is a nice luxury, and more respectful of your neighbors, if you have the money and space to plop one of these bad boy booths on the floor. does look odd, and did take a little of cultural change management, but based on my experience from facebook, andela, datadog where these all were used, they were always in demand.