Most talk of work these days revolves around the latest unemployment figures, the difficulties of getting and/or holding onto a job and/or how we are all working more hours for less money and less vacation time, or the bleak prospects for newly minted college grads (starkly rendered by cartoonist Jenna Brager in the new anthology “Share or Die: Youth in Recession.”)
At the end of his life, Robert Propst, creator of the cubicle system, called his invention “monolithic insanity,” yet we seem unable to tread down any other path. Longstanding calls for the Redesign of the Cubicle continue, in recent articles like “Designs to Make You Work Harder,” a roundup of “new” approaches to office design in The Wall Street Journal, and, in Fast Company, “Redesigning: Cubicles,” the goal of which was to “upgrade the corporate killjoy.” The topics seemed disconcertingly out of touch. Apart from maybe generating a little business for the contract furniture industry, what was the point? A bigger re-think of the world of work seems to be in order.
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