If you’re thinking of buying workplace “pods,” BIFMA’s new guide can help you evaluate their safety and performance

by Brianna Crandall — December 18, 2020 — The Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association (BIFMA) has created a guide for freestanding, fully enclosed, occupiable space-dividing products normally used in indoor spaces for privacy, conferencing and other purposes and commonly known as “booths” or “pods.”

Pods are an increasingly popular and innovative furniture option in open-office workplace design providing a quiet respite to make a phone call, hold a small meeting, or focus on independent work tasks. They create workspace alternatives for individuals seeking flexibility and variety in choosing a setting best suited to their work style and task at hand.

In support of their growing application, BIFMA announced the approval and release of this new voluntary safety and performance guideline.

BIFMA Pods-2020 is intended to provide manufacturers, specifiers, and users with a common basis for evaluating the safety, durability, performance, and structural adequacy of pods. It does not address the furniture products used within pods, since these are covered by various existing BIFMA standards.

The guide covers a variety of product criteria including acoustics, electrical, emissions, ventilation, fire safety, stability, seismic, and other considerations.

The guidance and tests in this guide are intended to assess the performance of new products only; they are not intended to assess a product that has been in use. The guidance considers pods that are fully assembled or assembled on site.

This guidance is directed primarily at the North American market, but the authors believe it may have widespread applicability beyond North America.

The BIFMA Pods-2020 guidance was developed by BIFMA’s Subcommittee for Building Codes over the past eight months. Forty-five subcommittee and industry stakeholders conducted reviews of this North American guide to ensure that the requirements were sound and that safety for the user was considered. It was finalized and approved on September 18, 2020.

Copies of the new BIFMA Pods-2020 guide are available from BIFMA immediately. This and other standards may be ordered online from BIFMA’s Online Standards Store.