I generally agree with the premise of this New Yorker piece on just how shitty open offices are. It mostly talks about the negative physical and psychological impact these spaces have on their workers, but talks hardly at all about why we will never be rid of them, and that has largely to do with management. (Via BoingBoing)
I don’t know if the managers of old were more trusting or what, but I do know the new, modern manager just loves the open office design.
They want to be able to poke their heads out of their private offices and see their proles beavering away on whatever BS they’ve been assigned. This low-effort illusion of productivity comforts them. If you put fabric cubical walls between the manager and their employees, the manager’s soul will become full of doubt. They will feel an icy claw wrap itself around their heart. What if they’re not working every second, the manager will think. What if they’re spending at least part of their time fucking around? Uhhrrr, you get chills of horror just thinking about it.
The watchword of the modern office is surveillance. The multi-billion dollar business of today lives in constant terror at the idea that they are being ripped off by their broken, beaten, indentured servants. After all, employees exist so you can squeeze the life out of them in order to feed your business — wouldn’t it be a terrible waste if they had some life left in them at the end of the day?