The open office might be a failed experiment—making employees less productive, less creative, and more stressed, whether or not they're introverted—but most companies aren't likely to immediately go back to cubicles or Don Draper-style full-blown offices (with a bar) for everyone. Maybe there's middle ground: A new hood-like dome is designed to give you a little privacy even when there aren't any walls nearby.
"[It] helps you to create an immediate territory of your own by eliminating elements that interfere with your concentration, such as noise or visual distractions," says Yuki Abe, a designer at Finland-based Mottowasabi, who created the hood with his partner Anna Salonen. "At the same time, it signals to others that you are not to be disturbed."
It's a little like the line of cocoon-like desks that Steelcase designed to maximize peak productivity. But the new felt dome, called the Tomoko, works with existing furniture: You can set it on a desk and sit your head inside, or perch it on a stand to hover over a chair to act like a partial phone booth.
"It doesn't reduce all the noise, but the noise has less volume," says Abe. "When talking on the phone under Tomoko, others don't hear well what you are saying. When it comes to visual distractions, it's possible to see in front but not to the sides."
Inside the felt bubble, he says, it's easier to focus on your work and forget about everything else happening in the office. "The experience is that the outside world disappears," he says. "The feeling is like having a meditation and reality escape."