Cubicles are Killing Us!


Reposted from Entrepreneur:

In 1960, the late Robert Propst, the “Father of the Cubicle,” called the then modern office layout a “wasteland.” The Herman Miller office furniture pioneer said the “rat-maze boxes of offices” of the day sapped vitality, blocked talent and frustrated accomplishment. “It is the daily scene of unfulfilled intentions and failed effort,” he said.

To get sedentary corporate workers off their feet, freely swapping ideas more and, yes, doing more work, Propst and fellow designer George Nelson introduced the Action Office I in 1964. It was a customizable, multi-piece setup — complete with standing desk, sitting desk, chair, footrest, table and shelf, among other features — that encouraged movement. But the chic open-office furnishings were too expensive and difficult to assemble. Sales lagged, and the product flopped.

Four years later came the cheaper, leaner version, the Action Office II — the hellish cookie-cutter walled-work enclave that today fences in an estimated 40 million American employees, according to Nikil Saval, the author of Cubed: A Secret History of the Workplace. Even Propst ended up loathing his partitioned cubicles, complaining that “crass,” cost-cutting office managers missed the flexible, collaborative concept behind them and instead used them to “create hellholes.” Propst eventually came to condemn the “cubicle-izing” of workers as “monolithic insanity.” He went to his grave hating what he created.

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