Edinburgh phone boxes to be converted into micro offices

Iconic red phone boxes across the city look set to be transformed into micro offices for workers on the go.

Tuesday, 19th July 2016, 8:34 am
Updated Tuesday, 19th July 2016, 9:37 am
Phoneboxes on the Royal Mile by John Knox House that are being turned into office spaces with keyboards and wireless printers. Picture; Greg Macvean

The hireable booths will boast a wi-fi network alongside essential gadgetry including a printer, scanner, and wireless mouse.

They will also be fitted with a 25-inch screen, a hot drinks machine and power outlets.

The idea has been dreamed up by New York company Bar Works as a more private alternative to cafes or offices.

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An artist's impression of the telephone box office. Picture: contributed

It is understood that the pioneering project will also be launched in other UK cities including London, Leeds and Plymouth. A £19.99 monthly membership fee provides around-the-clock access to the booths via an app.

Bar Works has described the pod as an alternative to sitting in cafes to work where it can be busy, loud and costly to buy a coffee. Membership gives around-the-clock access to workstations across the world.

Neil Scoresby, head of payphones for BT, said: “The expansion of the mobile telephone network will make an increasing number of our boxes redundant. We’re working hard to keep our payphones relevant and put them to new uses such as sites for mobile cells and ATMs, internet hubs and advertising.

“This new initiative will allow busy professionals in the Edinburgh area to work effectively whilst on the move.

An artist's impression of the telephone box office. Picture: contributed

“We’ll continue to keep a network of payphones in place for essential use and we’re enjoying seeing many of our old, unused boxes take on a new lease of life when they’re adopted by their local community. The scheme means communities can keep a local landmark that may have outlived its original purpose but now has the chance of a new role in local life.”

Gordon Henderson of the Federation of Small Businesses said the idea offered benefits.

He said: “More and more of my members do their business on the hoof and a lot of them are working from coffee shops.

“This would allow them to upload documents from a secure network or re-charge their phone, but I don’t think anyone is going to have a chair in there and call it home.”

There are about 400 payphones in the 0131 area and 90 of them are red boxes.

Bar Works has leased 23 red phone boxes but it is unclear how many are in the Capital.

Jonathan Black, the firm’s chief executive, said: “Entrepreneurs and others constantly on the move need a convenient, affordable and private place to work.

“Why should they sit in Starbucks or any other coffee bar when using one of our Pods will allow them to truly focus on their job before an important meeting or presentation at less than the price of two cups of coffee a week?”