The Post-Cubicle Office, and Other Industry News

Our weekly roundup of workplace news from around the web.

The King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, designed by Zaha Hadid Architects. Credit Julian Faulhaber for The New York Times.
The King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, designed by Zaha Hadid Architects. Credit Julian Faulhaber for The New York Times.
  • Did you catch last Sunday’s issue of The New York Times Magazine, “The Work Issue: Reimagining the Office”? It was the source of all of this week’s favorite stories. In “The Post-Cubicle Office and its Discontents”, Nikil Saval (author of the book Cubed: A Secret History of the Workplace) explores how we got from the cubicle to the “milk-and-honey offices of today”: “Over the last century, the office has been continually improved upon, in an attempt to make it work better and be a better place to work,” he writes. “But the whimsy and extravagance of the contemporary office is something new. Even when they were luxurious, the early offices of the 20th century were never wacky.”
  • In “Failure to Lunch”, Malia Wollan laments the decline of people actually taking a lunch break: “[I]n an economy where the standard task is sitting in front of a computer, lunch is less intuitive and far more optional. Now some 62 percent of professionals say they typically eat lunch at their desks, a phenomenon that social scientists have begun calling ‘‘desktop dining.’’ Eating takes a back seat to meetings, catching up on to-dos or responding to email,” she writes. And at what cost? “The desk lunch detracts from our sense of the office as a collaborative, innovative, sociable space.”
  • And finally: meetings. “They’re boring. They’re useless. Everyone hates them,” writes Virginia Heffernan. “So why can’t we stop having them?”
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