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Microsoft’s Flowspace Pod is the modern cubicle for the hybrid office

Microsoft’s Flowspace Pod concept will definitely give you cubicle envy with its modern, minimalist, and novel design. It’s the modern cubicle designed for the hybrid work-based future.

Rather than boxed-in sides, the FlowSpace Pod comes with open sides for easy collaboration, an immersive design that allows you to focus on your work, and elegant construction that was built with the realities of hybrid work in mind. Microsoft’s novel take on the cubicle even won the company a Red Dot award for its design, with the concept earning itself the “best of the best of 2021” accolade.

Microsoft's Flowspace Pod is the cubicle for the modern hybrid office.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The open-sided chamber of the Flowspace Pod is seen configured with ambient backlighting, a minimalist desk setup, a large TV-like screen that can be tilted and angled for ergonomic use — similar to Microsoft’s now discontinued Surface Studio all-in-one — a simple stool, and optional rear partition for increase privacy. Rather than solid side panels that are typical of most cubicle spaces today, smaller flaps — with built-in speakers — extend outward from the top and sides to give the pod its own sense of space without creating a constrained environment.

“The Flowspace Pod is a vision for the new normal, a sanctuary for focus and deep work in highly collaborative hybrid workplaces where solo work time will become more precious,” Microsoft said of its concept on the Red Dot awards page. The project was designed by the Microsoft Office Envisioning Team.

The idea behind Flowspace isn’t unlike remote on-demand workspaces that are created by companies such as ZenSpace and Switch. ZenSpace, for example, resembles a large public telephone booth, and it is being placed in malls as bookable private pods where you can get some work done in between shopping. Unlike ZenSpace, Flowspace isn’t designed to be a private pod, so its use may not be suitable for more public settings like malls and hotel lobbies.

Instead, Flowspace may be a nice way to offer workers at a company’s site the pseudo-privacy of having a cubicle while combining the collaboration and agility features of hotdesking. Alternatively, inside larger offices, Flowspace can also serve as a personal space for video conferencing given its large display, speakers, and relative built-in privacy that the design provides. This eliminates the need to build smaller conference rooms for video calls.

It’s unclear if Microsoft intends on commercializing its design concept, or if other companies will adopt some variation of Flowspace’s design to re-architect the modern office once people start to return to work.

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Chuong Nguyen
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