September 20, 2016 / 2:12 PM / 2 years ago

UK's famed red phone boxes get revamp - as mini-offices

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s famous red telephone boxes may no longer be used for their original purpose in an age of smartphones but one company is giving them a makeover — as small offices.

Pod Works is hoping to lure those who sit in coffee bars to work on their laptops to its revamped booths, which boast wifi, plug sockets, a phone, printer, scanner and free coffee and tea.

Once dotting British cities, towns and villages, the red telephone boxes have dwindled in number over the years, replaced by modern booths or simply removed. Some have been turned into libraries or coffee shops.

“We thought it was a good idea to repurpose these and take them into the 21st century,” Pod Works UK managing director Lorna Moore said. “The sheer volume of tourists who come and stand by the box and take selfies and photographs indicates just how iconic and important they are.”

Pod Works launched its first such work station in central London’s Russell Square this month and is opening others across the capital, for which membership costs 25 pounds ($32) a month. It plans to expand to other British cities in October.

“We’re hoping to have 50 out by Christmas and then this time next year we will have 300 out,” Moore said.

A man passes a row of traditional telephone boxes in London January 15, 2015. British regulator Ofcom has said it would set up a safeguard to make sure BT maintains a sufficient margin between its wholesale and retail superfast broadband charges to allow rival providers to profitably match its prices. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor (BRITAIN - Tags: SOCIETY BUSINESS TELECOMS TRAVEL) - RTR4LKOP

Reporting By Emily Wither; Editing by Gareth Jones

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