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The Open Office and the Spirit of Capitalism

It would be too much to say that the office is the prime locus of utopian aspirations in American life. But the claim wouldn’t be entirely misleading, either, and it might even shed some light on what the office actually is. From their earliest days as dingy counting houses in Boston and Manhattan, American offices have adapted to the flux of capitalism. Or capitalisms, really. Each new management technique or architectural fad, if not the direct result of some larger shift in modes of production, at least isomorphically reflects the evolution of capitalism’s spirit. From Taylorism to the open-plan design, the office is a stage on which we act out capitalism’s fantasies of itself. Set changes are necessary as the spirit shifts and the plot develops.

But does capitalism actually have a spirit? And what does it mean to claim that it does? Language that flirts so casually with poetic analogy demands a basis in some kind of formal definition. One can find worse sources for that clarity than Luc Boltanski and Eve Chiapello, who in their book The New Spirit of Capitalism (Verso, 2018) provide brief and maximally efficient definitions of both “capitalism” and “the spirit of capitalism.”

Capitalism, they write, is “an imperative to unlimited accumulation of capital by formally peaceful means.”1 They elaborate that capitalism, as an economic and social imperative, is something more than the mere existence of a market economy: “capitalism is to be distinguished from market self-regulation based upon conventions and institutions, particularly of a legal and political character, aimed at ensuring equal terms between traders (pure, perfect competition), transparency, symmetry of information, a central bank guaranteeing a stable exchange rate for credit money, and so on.”2 The spirit of capitalism, meanwhile, is simply “the ideology that justifies engagement with capitalism.”3

Of course, the phrase “spirit of capitalism” invokes Max Weber, who, with more specificity than Boltanski and Chiapello, took it to mean the moral and ethical stories we tell ourselves in order to justify acquisition, if not outright avarice. But notice how broad the more recent definition is. It’s generous enough, in fact, to include even the current critiques of capitalism, in some ways artifacts of the system they’re responding to. And so the spirit of capitalism, in this larger sense, encompasses both the methods available for unlimited accumulation of capital and the changing ways we address the social and psychological anxieties which these methods produce. The spirit of capitalism is not false consciousness or alienation, but rather the economic and social cosmology that we inevitably inhabit.

Perhaps the office itself is simply the most immediate and concrete representation of this cosmology, in which the seemingly contradictory forces of capitalism play off of and synthesize with one another. The currently fashionable open-office plan—a design which attempts to incorporate the creative fluidity of a tech start-up with the stability of the “traditional” office—is only the most recent example of conflicting motivations inhabiting the workplace (or workspace, as they’re now called). The layout of such an office isn’t new, nor are the general conceptual arrangements associated with it. But the context has changed. Technology is shifting. New management styles have developed. The notion of the company itself is already different from what it was even a generation ago. To understand where we are and how we got here requires rummaging through office spaces of the past and reading them like hieroglyphics. It requires an archeology of the present.

The Tribe of Clerks

I should have stated before that ground glass folding-doors divided my premises into two parts, one of which was occupied by my scriveners, the other by myself. According to my humor I threw open these doors, or closed them. I resolved to assign Bartleby a corner by the folding-doors, but on my side of them, so as to have this quiet man within easy call, in case any trifling thing was to be done. I placed his desk close up to a small side-window in that part of the room, a window which originally had afforded a lateral view of certain grimy back-yards and bricks, but which, owing to subsequent erections, commanded at present no view at all, though it gave some light. Within three feet of the panes was a wall, and the light came down from far above, between two lofty buildings, as from a very small opening in a dome. Still further to a satisfactory arrangement, I procured a high green folding screen, which might entirely isolate Bartleby from my sight, though not remove him from my voice. And thus, in a manner, privacy and society were conjoined.4

Melville’s “Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street” is the urtext of American work literature, at least superficially familiar to anyone who has taken an undergraduate American literature course. A lawyer officed on Wall Street hires a clerk, Bartleby, who after initially doing commendable work begins to refuse assignments with the cryptic phrase “I would prefer not to.” Bartleby’s refusal seems to take on cosmic proportions and eventually culminates in his quasi-sacrificial death by starvation in The Tombs. Putting aside the obvious metaphysical readings of the story, let us focus instead on Melville’s rendering of an antebellum office. Containing the same basic accoutrements of our contemporary offices, most notably desks and seated employees gainfully employed in interpreting and organizing abstract symbols, Bartleby’s work space would have been instantly familiar to us.

But what might have struck us about the space? The heaviness and the intimacy. Including an office boy called Ginger Nut, only five people work in the office, and there’s constant interaction between the employees and their one single boss. The room is dark, graced only by indirect sunlight, and even the window faces yet another wall. Ad hoc partitions are raised in order to achieve some sort of “privacy,” but the divisions between things—between employees, between employees and the boss, between their enterprise and the outside world—feel invariably “weighty,” to use a Melville word. This is a proto-office, not entirely focused on efficiency but instead trying for a sort of reluctant détente between the idiosyncratic personalities of the employees and the industriousness necessitated by the work. Fitting with the spirit of capitalism of the time, the walls were really to separate the clerks from the laborers.

When “Bartleby” was published in 1853, not many Americans worked in an office. Even as late as the 1880s, fewer than 5 percent of Americans were involved in clerical work. During the nineteenth century, most Americans were, of course, farmers. But the steady rise in the number of clerks towards the turn of the century, and hence the development of the office, would come as a response to the Industrial Revolution. Nikil Saval writes of this shift in his exhaustive study of the office, Cubed (Doubleday, 2014):

Industrialization in Britain and America was producing more and more administrative work, and alongside it a need for a rational approach to managing accounts, bills, ledgers: in short, paperwork. Rising to take these positions were clerks, who, looking around, began to see themselves growing in number, and to feel themselves as belonging vaguely to a special group. One finds the evolution of the office coinciding, then, with a change in the position of the clerks themselves—a new restiveness on their part, a new sense of power.5

Thus clerks—a category of workers who since the invention of bureaucracy had been a toiling class defined in large part by long hours hunched over correspondence or ledgers—began to perceive themselves as distinct from both the laborers (outside of the office) and the boss (usually only in the singular at this point). This new sense of power that Saval describes expressed itself, among other ways, in the dapper clothes of the clerk, setting them apart visually and symbolically from the men toiling away on the factory floor. In his short story “The Man of the Crowd,” Edgar Allan Poe describes younger clerks as

young gentlemen with tight coats, bright boots, well-oiled hair, and supercilious lips. Setting aside a certain dapperness of carriage, which may be termed deskism for want of a better word, the manner of these persons seemed to me an exact facsimile of what had been the perfection of bon ton about twelve or eighteen months before. They wore the cast-off graces of the gentry;—and this, I believe, involves the best definition of the class.6

One of these “cast-off graces” was the white collar itself—often raised, starched stiff, and sold as detachable from the shirt it was connected to. Saval writes of the white collar that it was “an essential status marker . . . the perfect symbol of the pseudo-genteel, dual nature of office work.”7

“Dual nature” is right. For as highly as the clerks regarded themselves, their professional success was precariously dependent on the personal whims of the bosses they worked next to, cheek to jowl, in the closed confines of a relatively small work space. The intimacy must have provided the thrilling illusion that Melville’s partitions could be scaled through sheer drudgery alone.

But penetrating that comfortable semblance of informality were technological and managerial changes which revolutionized the office as it entered the twentieth century. The buildings which clerks worked in began to be built taller, and with elevators. Office-specific objects such as the typewriter and file cabinet were invented. But, perhaps most important, the railroads were built. With the coming of rail lines, time and space itself were organized and systematized on a radically unprecedented scale. As Alfred D. Chandler Jr. explained in The Visible Hand (Harvard University Press, 1977):

The swift victory of the railway over the waterway resulted from organizational as well as technological innovation. Technology made possible fast, all-weather transportation; but safe, regular, reliable movement of goods and passengers, as well as the continuing maintenance and repair of locomotives, rolling stock, and track, roadbed, stations, roundhouses and other equipment, required the creation of a sizable administrative organization. It meant the employment of an administrative command of middle and top executives to monitor, evaluate, and coordinate the work of managers responsible for the day-to-day operations. It meant, too, the formulation of brand new types of internal administrative procedures and accounting and statistical controls. Hence, the operational requirements of the railroads demanded the creation of the first administrative hierarchies in American business.8

It was inevitable that the simultaneous expansion of bureaucracy and the Gilded Age consolidation of firms into monopolies would be expressed in managerial methodology. This new system was pioneered and implemented by Frederick “Speedy” Taylor, the prickly visionary who sought to break labor down to its bare essentials by separating it from skill or knowledge. By dissecting tasks into their component steps, and then assigning an employee a single step, Taylor sought to completely rationalize office management. Gone were the days of jocular lunches with the boss in an office with only a handful of employees. Once Taylorized, office life became less communal and more anonymous. Personality mattered less than the number of seconds it took to walk a paper to a file cabinet. And office spaces themselves changed physically in response to the new management methods. The new offices were larger, occupying multiple floors, and wide open, in order to accommodate the growing legions of white-collar workers staffing a modern business. There was also less privacy. As Saval writes, “Offices became massive overheads for Taylorist operations, with organizational charts to designate, down to the minutest detail, the labor process that workers once carried within their own heads. Offices grew enormous simply to house all the new white shirts, with their stopwatches and charts. Even where Taylorism in its strictest form wasn’t adopted—and, indeed, this was true of most offices—its spirit of management spread far and wide.”9 And here enters into the American mythos the imposing character of the efficiency expert, the outsider who descends from another world to level the phrase—as much an accusation as it is a question—“What is it you’d say you actually do here?”

This nascent field of scientific management balanced Taylorism against another and more insidious form of control. What might be mistaken as an innocuous concern for the “whole person” outside of their role as an employee could just as easily be read as an attempt at a more total colonization of the individual. Days might have been long in the old counting house, but work and home were distinct. Melville’s allegorical barriers between office and street, between employees and boss, and between work and life felt insurmountable. But jump sixty years into the future and glimpse into the new cathedral of American industry, the Larkin Building, and the barricades have all vanished. The number of clerks has metastasized and their jobs have been subdivided into discrete tasks. The unavoidable intimacy of Bartleby’s office had been replaced by a bland anonymity, an atomization that was only amplified by banal corporate team-building activities. There’s a YWCA on-site, as well as the opportunity to write for the employee-run newspaper. There are places in the building for employees to relax and rejuvenate. And the building itself, with its open central atrium rich with natural light, is as conducive to worker morale as it is useful for employers to observe and measure their employees’ every move. Every major aspect of the burgeoning spirit of twentieth-century capitalism coalesced in the Larkin Building, including the fact that it was more than a building. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, it was also a work of art, and an integral part of Larkin’s brand. The counting house hadn’t just been rationalized and expanded, it was also in the process of turning itself inside out. It would unfold its inner logic to the world.

Starting from Zero

The quasi-Victorianism of Taylor’s revolutionary management methods—its abstraction of office work into rational and measurable components—required a centralization of administrative power which grew relatively unabated through the Second World War. The chasm between executives, managers, and the innumerable ranks of lower-level functionaries seemed to grow wider than ever. And, in addition to that, barriers between white-collar office workers and factory floor laborers solidified even further during the 1920s and 1930s. As these formal partitions strengthened, the no-longer-nascent science of industrial management developed in kind.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the proliferation of both Taylorism and novel office technologies didn’t do all that much to reduce the drudgery of white-collar work. Instead, the study of office-worker morale became a field in its own right. Industrial sociologists, usually with a good-faith belief that the contentment of the employee is symbiotically related to a total increase in firm productivity, conducted experiments on how the psychological states of workers contributed to the health of the firm. It wasn’t just the movements of office workers that were tracked, measured, and manipulated—their thoughts and feelings became the prime focus of corporate exploitation in what might be called “Taylorism 2.0.” And what was learned from this new level of invasive management? The most representative case has to be Elton Mayo’s “Hawthorne Experiment,” his study of how different kinds of lighting affected employees.10 The shocking takeaway, which in some ways echoed contemporary developments in particle physics, was that the only thing really affecting employee performance was the act of being observed itself.

This breach into the bare interiority of employees was reflected in the changing architecture of the office itself. It was no longer enough to simply provide a desk within earshot of the boss, as in the old counting houses, or to rationalize and control each movement of the employee, as in the Taylorized workplace. By the mid-twentieth century, the spirit of American capitalism, having confronted the specters of both the Great Depression and fascism, required a more expansive raison d’être than simple faith in material progress or individual achievement. It required an ideology of the whole man. And, just as important, it required a way of symbolically conveying this ideology to a growing consumer public. Cutting-edge management techniques and faux-radical chic had to be expressed by the exterior of the office as well as on the inside. It wasn’t enough that the products being sold to a country of growing middle-class consumers were advertised to address their most profound existential desires. The corporate ethos had to maintain the illusion as well. And what better way to convey these lofty ambitions than with an ideologically charged architecture that simultaneously presented the illusions of optimism and transparency?

The mid-century glass skyscraper that we associate with the International Style finds its roots in the comically tragic fecundity of competing ideologies in interwar Germany, specifically in the Bauhaus Group in Weimar. Bauhaus was just one of many “schools” of utopian thought in European architecture at the time. As Tom Wolfe sarcastically described it, “It was more than a school; it was a commune, a spiritual movement, a radical approach to art in all its forms, a philosophical center comparable to the Garden of Epicurus.”11 The defining phrase of the Bauhaus “leader” (these movements all had leaders as surely as they had manifestos), Walter Gropius, was “starting from zero,” which in practice meant throwing out thousands of years of hard-earned architectural wisdom from Vitruvius onward in favor of “anti-bourgeois” political gesticulations. What this produced in practice was buildings which were meant to be thought about rather than lived in, “anti-bourgeois” having come to signify machine precision, zero decorative flair, and a minimalism so weighted with intellectual pretension that it made baroque whimsy and the Gothic yearning for transcendence seem humble by comparison.

Yet at the beginning of the twentieth century, America was in many ways more industrially sophisticated than Germany. As James Howard Kunstler explains in The Geography of Nowhere (Simon & Schuster, 1993), the basic form inspiring European architects was a copy of a wooden shoe factory building in Beverly, Massachusetts. It was rebuilt verbatim at Alfeld-an-der-Leine in Germany in 1910, with the “skin job,” or outer edifice, contrived by a young Gropius.12 “The result was a building that looks like the prototypical American junior high school: three stories of beige brick, big steel-sash windows, and the soon-to-be canonical flat roof,” writes Kunstler.13 Le Corbusier, the apogee of modernist architectural vapidity, was himself “one of the earliest advocates for Taylorism in France.”14 European intellectuals abstracted these utilitarian buildings and concepts from the native specificity of their American context, and then agitated for the world to conform to their freshly theorized ideal. But it was America that pioneered the commodification of these ideals in the guise of the prestige office building.

New York’s Seagram Building, designed by Mies van der Rohe and completed in 1958, is a synecdoche for the failed ambitions of the International Style in office architecture. Wolfe pithily captions a photo of the building: “The Seagram Building. Mies pitches worker housing up thirty-eight stories, and capitalists use it as a corporate headquarters.” It offered an aesthetic of functionality not to be confused with the real thing. For example, in order to maintain a visual sense of uniformity, van der Rohe designed the blinds in his glass building to only have three settings. Wolfe describes the result: “In the great corporate towers, the office workers shoved filing cabinets, desks, wastepaper baskets, potted plants up against the floor-to-ceiling sheets of glass, anything to build a barrier against the panicked feeling that they were about to pitch headlong into the streets below. Above these jerry-built walls they strung up makeshift curtains that looked like laundry lines from the slums of Naples, anything to keep out that brain-boiling, poached-eye sunlight that came blazing in every afternoon.”15 This impractical symbolic dialogue at the expense of office workers’ comfort belied both the ideological pretensions and the illusion of transparency that the buildings projected.

The same dynamic was echoed inside of these modernist offices: Machine-crafted objects, sleek with minimal lines, embodied an ethos of modularity. Drop ceilings, developed to hide the raw innards of wires and beams, were industrial Mondrian. Cheap fluorescent lights flickered over cubicles deep within the windowless center of the building. And the file cabinet was itself a kind of office building in miniature. “Each office within the skyscraper is a segment of the enormous file, a part of the symbolic factory that produces the billions of slips of paper that gear modern society into its daily shape,” wrote C. Wright Mills.16 The modularity and order imposed on the office by the grand architectural minds of Europe perfectly suited the mid-century zeitgeist, and the new orthodoxy of office architecture theory proliferated in only slightly modified form in a million American office parks. But the modernist ideology still remained rooted in the specificity of place. In its next transformation, the counting house wouldn’t just turn into a tower of glass, it would relocate within the human mind itself.

The Office Opened and Dematerialized

By the sixties, the grand paranoia of the Cold War and the stifling conformity of contemporary office life blurred nebulously in the public mind, and rightfully so. Books about the corporate colonization of the total man proliferated: The Lonely CrowdThe Organization ManThe Man in the Gray Flannel Suit. Gestures at office democratization, such as excluding an executive wing from the Connecticut General Life Insurance building,17 were mostly empty, the corporate power structure being obvious no matter where the bosses were physically located. As Thomas Frank writes in The Conquest of Cool, “What happened in the sixties is that hip became central to the way American capitalism understood itself and explained itself to the public.”18 What Frank means by “hip” is that Taylorist work ethic and mid-century organizational loyalty were disregarded as narratives of white-collar identity, replaced by an au courant sense of personal liberty. This emphatic shift, along with advances in communications technology, would first crack the office open before dematerializing it.

According to one account, the genesis of the open office can be traced to the day when Jay Chiat, CEO of the advertising agency Chiat\Day, “had a vision on the ski slopes of Telluride.”19 That the peak experiences of corporate executives can result in the restructuring of our daily lives in the most intimate and subtle ways is a popular if disturbing notion, but it isn’t entirely accurate to say that the open office plan began in the mind of Chiat. In addition to Hamburg industrialists experimenting with proto-open offices in the fifties,20 there was also Herman Miller’s “Action Office21 design system meant to facilitate the free movement of individual employees. Yet none of these designs entirely did away with privacy, and each at least nominally gestured towards the same general workstations as clerks had in counting houses. What Chiat enlisted designer Gaetano Pesce to build in 1994, however, was quietly revolutionary: an office without paper. NPR’s Stacey Vanek Smith explains:

So this sounds kind of mundane. But if you think about it, this was profound. I mean, most of the things we think of as being associated with an office are essentially paper-management devices—staplers, hole punches, file folders, file cabinets. And, if you think about it, even desks are pretty much just there to hold paper. But this was 1994. You didn’t really need paper all that much anymore. There were laptops. There was email.22

The result was something that resembled a cross between a warehouse, a conference room, and a college rec center. Without a need for walls, desks, offices, or file cabinets, employees seemed to “move through an improved dimension in a radically fluid arrangement of space” designed to keep the firm in a “state of creative unrest,” the New York Times reported.23

Open offices proliferated with the same abandon as Taylorism and the International Style did previously. According to the New Yorker, 70 percent of American offices now have an open plan of some sort.24 Gone are the creativity-stifling partitions between workers, the redundant file cabinets, and outmoded modular design.

The borderless fluidity of open offices seems perfectly suited to the ambitions of the internet age—while also replicating its failed aspirations toward “connectivity.” Just as hyper-modulated online interactions, contrary to the promise of their conceptual foundations, cordon people into niche micro experiences,25 so the open office counterintuitively isolates office workers. A recent study from Harvard Business School confirms this deterioration of face-to-face interaction.26 The head researcher for the study, Ethan Bernstein, told Forbes:

in general, I do think the open office space “revolution” has gone too far. If you’re sitting in a sea of people, for instance, you might not only work hard to avoid distraction (by, for example, putting on big headphones) but—because you have an audience at all times—also feel pressure to look really busy. Indeed, all of the cues in open offices that we give off to get focused work done also make us less, not more, likely to interact with others. That’s counterproductive, at least given the rhetoric of open offices.27

This sort of counterproductivity can be particularly anxiety-inducing. A constant din of sound serves as the backdrop to conditions in which workers are observed more intrusively than even the Taylorists could have imagined. And yet, contrary to what the Taylorists might have predicted, these panopticon offices are actually counterproductive in the literal, economic sense of the term as well. A growing body of research describes their deleterious effects on workers’ efficiency, with one study estimating that open offices cause a 15 percent reduction in productivity.28

Fittingly, the philosopher Byung-Chul Han classifies the signature affliction of our current age as neuronal violence, as opposed to the “immunological” violence of last century, which took place along clearly demarcated borders. With barriers literally down, the paranoid totalizing of the corporate office space comes to embody the ethos of Foucault’s disciplinary society, with one important twist. What replaces the disciplinary society, Han tells us, is the “achievement society.” Now the question is no longer, “What am I allowed to do?” but “What can I do?” This shift is profound. It takes us from the firmly hierarchical paranoia and conformity of the skyscraper to the depressed, ADHD-afflicted chaos of the open office space. The company man was never allowed to be himself. The unpaid intern, by contrast, must always be performing himself. The result of the now largely dematerialized office is that this very performance of self becomes the office. Han is worth quoting at length on this:

The society of laboring and achievement is not a free society. It generates new constraints. Ultimately, the dialectic of master and slave does not yield a society where everyone is free and capable of leisure, too. Rather, it leads to a society of work in which the master himself has become a laboring slave. In this society of compulsion, everyone carries a work camp inside. This labor camp is defined by the fact that one is simultaneously prisoner and guard, victim and perpetrator. One exploits oneself. It means that exploitation is possible even without domination.29

The purpose of the open office was always self-exploitation. It exists like some evolutionary link between the confined counting houses of the past and the dematerialized configurations of “the office” yet to come. Tracing the arc of the office’s development through time, and then anticipating its curve beyond, we could do worse than to extrapolate from existing data points like the shared workspace, working remotely, and the commodification of daily life into internet content (think here of unboxing videos or the selling of consumer preference data). Jonathan Crary writes in 24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep (Verso, 2013): “As the opportunity for electronic transactions of all kinds becomes omnipresent, there is no vestige of what used to be everyday life beyond the reach of corporate intrusion. An attention economy dissolves the separation between the personal and professional, between entertainment and information, all overridden by a compulsory functionality that is inherently and inescapably 24/7.”30 What this suggests is that as the office walls come down, so will the temporal and ideological barriers separating work from nonwork. The office of the future, in other words, won’t be a place, but an identity. The office of the future will be your most intimate conceptions of self, somehow put to work.

I imagine a character like Eddie Morra from the film Limitless as the Bartleby of the future. In Limitless, Morra is a blocked writer who takes a nootropic, “mind-enhancing” drug which allows him to not only write a book that his publishers are happy with, but to become an expert investor. He also dresses nicer and acts more urbane.

The title of the film is revealing here, not so much as a hyperbolic reference to Morra’s cognitive abilities but as a signifier of the liberation of the office from physical space into the neural web of the brain itself. “Limitless” does not denote a liberation from constraints, but confinement within a near infinity of accelerated “sameness”—what Han identifies as the inability to escape the self. The emancipatory promise of the drug in Limitless, an amplified version of students taking Ritalin to study, is predicated upon the maximization of the achievement society into the core of self-identity. “Not many of us know what it’s like to become the perfect version of ourselves,” Morra says at one point.31 And yet how banal that the highest function of the human mind culminates in day-trading. How banal that the highest purpose of the human mind is an instrumental function at all.

If the failure of the open office concept is any indication, the total internalization of the spirit of capitalism will not represent an escape from its contradictions. It is only an advanced stage of its afflictions.

This article originally appeared in American Affairs Volume II, Number 4 (Winter 2018): 202–16.

Notes

1 Luc Boltanski and Eve Chiapello, The New Spirit of Capitalism (London: Verso, 2018), 4.

2 Boltanski and Chiapello, 5.

3 Boltanski and Chiapello, 8.

4 Herman Melville, The Piazza Tales (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1987), 19.

5 Nikil Saval, Cubed (New York: Anchor Books, 2014), 13.

6 Edgar Allan Poe, Poems, Tales, and Selected Essays (New York: Library of America, 1996), 389.

7 Saval, 15.

8 Alfred D. Chandler Jr., The Visible Hand (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1977), 87.

9 Saval, 54–55.

10The Hawthorne Effect,” Economist, November 3, 2008.

11 Tom Wolfe, From Bauhaus to Our House (New York: Picador, 1981), 8.

12 James Kunstler, The Geography of Nowhere (New York: Touchstone, 1994), 68.

13 Kunstler, 68–69.

14 Saval, 128.

15 Wolfe, 61.

16 C. Wright Mills, White Collar (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), 189.

17Connecticut General Life Insurance Company Headquarters,” SOM.

18 Thomas Frank, The Conquest of Cool (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998), 26.

19 Planet Money, “Open Office,” episode 704 (transcript), NPR, Aug. 8, 2018.

20 Maria Konnikova, “The Open-Office Trap,” New Yorker, Jan. 7, 2014.

21Action Office System,” HermanMiller.

22 Planet Money.

23 Herbert Muschamp, “It’s a Mad Mad Mad Ad World,” New York Times, Oct. 16, 1994.

24 Konnikova.

25 Lin Pophal, “Micro-Experiences: New Opportunities in Multichannel Marketing,” EContent, May 29, 2017.

26 Ethan S. Bernstein and Stephen Turban, “The Impact of the ‘Open’ Workspace on Human Collaboration,” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 373, no. 1753 (August 19, 2018): 20170239.

27 Christian Camerota, “The Open Office Revolution Has Gone Too Far,” Forbes, July 26, 2018.

28 Geoffrey James, “9 Reasons That Open-Space Offices Are Insanely Stupid,” Inc., February 25, 2016.

29 Byung-Chul Han, The Burnout Society (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2015), 19.

30 Jonathan Crary, 24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep (London: Verso, 2013), 75–76.

31 Limitless (film), dir. Neil Burger (Beverly Hills: Relativity), 2011.

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