As the country begins its fifth full month of widespread remote work due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the idea of going back into a “real” office seems more and more uncanny. But NYC startup ROOM thinks offices are here to stay, and they will require more innovation than ever to operate safely.
Launched in 2018 by serial entrepreneurs Morten Meisner-Jensen and Brian Chen, ROOM makes small soundproof booths designed to provide the privacy needed to escape from an otherwise bustling open office. The ergonomically designed pods have just a small laptop ledge and stool.
“Some people call them privacy pods,” Chen told Built In in an interview last month. “We like to think of them as purpose-built rooms.”
The purpose began as privacy. Now, ROOM says its booths are a solution for companies that want to get their offices safely open again. With the help of $12.5 million in fresh funding and leading architects, ROOM will launch three new offerings beginning this month. The new products will be affordable, equipped with “density sensors” and easy to assemble and disassemble. Overall, they will provide spaces built for work and collaboration, according to the company.
This round of funding was led by Slow Ventures and brings ROOM’s total capital to more than $14 million, according to Crunchbase.
“The needs of modern workers have dramatically shifted due to the pandemic,” Kevin Colleran, managing director at Slow Ventures, said in a statement. “The team at ROOM is helping companies define their strategies for returning to work, and the ROOM brand is becoming synonymous with how to create innovative, safe, productive work environments. We believe ROOM’s vision for adaptive architecture has the potential to completely revolutionize the commercial real estate industry as we know it.”
In the meantime, ROOM has expanded into Europe. It now has showrooms in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Berlin, Paris, London and Copenhagen. The company is also hiring, with open positions in its technology and operations departments.