Sure, they’re convenient, but can you actually get work done in them?

Working from home has become something of the new normal due to a certain pandemic, but not everyone has the ideal space at home to turn into a makeshift working environment. Teleworking spaces have started popping up in places like capsule hotels and karaoke bars, with even theme parks getting in on the remote work action. But while working from the highest point in a ferris wheel may seem like fun at first, it might not be the ideal place to have a Zoom meeting with your boss.

For people who want a more conventional space to get some work done, the Fuji Xerox CocoDesk booths might be the ideal option. When they first opened back in August 2020, there were only a few booths, but according to the Fuji Xerox website there are currently 63 CocoDesks in action. Found in underground Tokyo Metro stations, these private boxes are available for rent in blocks of 15 minutes for 250 yen (US$2.36). The CocoDesk has everything you need–sockets for your electronics, WiFi, air conditioning, a monitor with a liquid crystal display, and of course, a desk.

▼ There’s even a USB-friendly socket, too.

The booth is big enough for one person to use at a time, and according to our Japanese reporter P.K Sanjun, it felt roomy enough when sitting at the desk. However, he felt a little cramped when he stood up inside the booth, so surely P.K’s usual work-related activities would be a little tough to accomplish in such a confined space.

▼ Definitely not enough space for two people, even if one of them is pretty small!

▼ But sitting at the desk, it didn’t feel so cramped.

So how much work would P.K. actually be able to get done in the CocoDesk booth? Would it be an effective place for him to knuckle down and work hard?

If you only plan to use the booth for a quick burst of work, then yes, it’s effective. The booth is air conditioned, and while it isn’t completely soundproof — P.K. could hear the coronavirus safety announcements from the Metro — it was quiet enough that you couldn’t hear the hustle and bustle from outside. If you were in a situation where you needed to quickly get some work done using a computer, CocoDesk would be ideal. And after all, at only 500 yen for 30 minutes, it was pretty good value too.

However, if you plan to spend more than an hour working, P.K. doesn’t recommend the CocoDesk. While the soundproofing is effective at keeping out the sounds of passers-by, it’s not 100-percent devoid of any sound, and it might be easy to lose focus as you hear the Metro announcements in the background. Not to mention, while 250 yen doesn’t sound like a lot of money, it can quickly add up — for two hours of work you’d be shelling out 2,000 yen. With Japan’s average minimum wage at 902 yen per hour, you might even end up losing money while you work. Not ideal!

How about for Zoom meetings? Surely a private booth would be more effective than say, a busy cafe? Maybe, says P.K.; after all, with the booth soundproofed and the liquid display monitor inside the booth, you could Zoom away without any major issues. However, the problem lies in the timing. As we mentioned before, the CocoDesk booths can only be used in blocks of 15 minutes, meaning if you arrived at the booth at 10:50, regardless of if the booth was in use or not, you’d need to wait until 11:00 to be able to use it, which seems a bit counter-intuitive.

So is the CocoDesk an ideal place to do some remote work? In the end, P.K. came to the conclusion that the answer to that question depends on how long you plan to use the booth for. For a short period of time or a quick unscheduled Zoom? Go for it! For a lengthy period or a scheduled chat with your boss? Maybe try somewhere else. And seeing as even conveniences stores have started having their own telework booths in their shops, you won’t be hard pressed to find the perfect place to work!

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