Editor’s note: Plexpod is a financial sponsor of Startland News. This report was produced independently by Startland News’ nonprofit newsroom.
Step inside. Roll the door shut. Just about all you’ll hear is the soft whirring of a HEPA filtration ventilation system that cycles air through Plexpod’s new Focalpod private offices every two minutes, said Gerald Smith.
“Being in a Focalpod is like wearing a mask,” said Smith, co-founder of Plexpod and the freshly debuted Focalpod private workspace amenity — a space most like a traditional coworking phone booth, but specially designed for the COVID-19 era.
Power receptacles, including USB Type A and C for charging personal devices, are featured within each Focalpod. Both lighting and air systems use timed controllers as an easy reminder on length of use. Similar to enclaves within Plexpod, Focalpods are available on a first-come, first-serve basis with a recommended limit of one hour per use.
Click here to learn more about Focalpods, available at Plexpod’s Westport Commons location and for private order.
The first pods — which serve as individual or small group meeting spaces — were unveiled Wednesday, positioned in the Annex commons and second-floor hallways at Plexpod Westport Commons. More pods are expected to be delivered and distributed throughout the facility in the coming weeks.
“It is a concept that my son [Gerald II] and I designed some time ago as a way to implement an affordable phone booth option at our Plexpod locations,” said Smith. “Built-in phone booths are not always an option. When COVID hit, we knew these would be needed more than ever. And that is when we came up with the idea for additional sizes and uses.”
Click here to read more about steps coworking spaces are taking to keep community members safe during COVID.
The Focalpod “Phone” is designed as a phone booth; the Focalpod “Meetup” is suited for as many as six people; and the Focalpod “Office” includes a motorized sit/stand desk, file cabinet, shelving, and is lockable.
The units can be placed for use anywhere, except outdoors, Smith said.
“In essence they are like a piece of furniture that you put in place and simply plug in,” he added. “We have heard many suggestions on how they can be used; such as a mother’s room, or a meditation space, or even a sleep pod.”
Through building several prototypes, the father-son duo developed a versatile solution that proved simple, attractive, and most importantly affordable, Smith said.
“The cheapest phone booth currently on the market is around $4,000, and is much smaller than our designs. We wanted a solution that was under $3,000 and still very roomy and comfortable,” he said. “We determined that if we ended up only serving the Heartland region, it would be worth it. There are lots of options on the market, but nothing truly affordable.”
Click here to check out pricing for your own Focalpod unit.
The pods are well-suited to Plexpod member-companies and outside businesses that need additional privacy within their team spaces, as well as a way to better disperse their workforce within their spaces.
Plexpod is a coworking space with four locations in Kansas City — Westport Commons, Lenexa, Crossroads and River Market — as well as an under-construction concept at the Flashcube luxury apartments project downtown.
Click here to learn more about Plexpod Flashcube.