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Today's Modern Office Design Is All About Flexibility And Privacy

The office is undergoing a major redesign — again.

While one-size-fits-all, open-plan layouts have ruled office designs in recent years — especially for young startups and tech firms — the newest plan is embracing some of the sector's more traditional roots. The trend now gaining traction has been dubbed “activity-based workplace design," which prioritizes both flexibility and privacy, the New York Times reports.

Today's Modern Office Design Is All About Flexibility And Privacy

The latest model acknowledges that companies may have saved money establishing an open concept floor plan, but in most cases, they did not drive the innovation and collaboration desired. To combat this problem, current designs include areas such as team spaces with standing tables, comfortable couches and movable walls to encourage team meetings and collaboration. The activity-based office design also provides private spaces such as soundproof phone booths or isolation rooms in order to account for moments when intense concentration is needed, or when a confidential conversation needs to take place.

Microsoft was one of the first companies to implement the activity-based design, the NYT reports, because of its need to produce new ideas quickly and efficientlyThe company used a test-and-learn approach when coming up with the office design and initially found the early schemes to be too open, making it difficult for engineers to focus. Now, the office is a mix of both open and private spaces.

Activity-based designs are meant to appeal to millennials who are often more comfortable working in coffee shops than in traditional offices, but also to encourage idea sharing, decision-making and the creation of new products.