(p. A1) Originally conceived in 1950s Germany, the open-plan office has migrated from tech start-ups to advertising agencies, architecture firms and even city governments. Now it has reached what is perhaps its most unlikely frontier yet: book publishing.
Few industries seem as uniquely ill suited to the concept. The process of acquiring, editing and publishing books is rife with moments requiring privacy and quiet concentration. There are the sensitive negotiations with agents; the wooing of prospective authors; the poring over of manuscripts.
. . .
(p. B6) Even as the walls of America’s workplaces continue to come crashing down, leaving only a handful of holdouts — like corporate law firms — a number of recent studies have been critical of the effects of open-plan offices on both the productivity and happiness of cube dwellers.
“The evidence against open-plan offices is mounting,” said Nikil Saval, the author of “Cubed: A Secret History of the Workplace.” “The idea is that these offices encourage collaboration and serendipitous encounters. But there’s not a lot of evidence behind these claims. Whereas there is a lot of evidence that people don’t like open plans.”
The notion of cookie-cutter cubicles is especially anathema to a certain breed of editors who see themselves more as men and women of letters than they do as businesspeople.
“It’s a world of words that we’re working towards, not an intellectual sweatshop,” said Jonathan Galassi, president and publisher of Farrar, Straus & Giroux and an opponent of open-plan offices.
For book editors, offices provide more than just privacy. They like to fill the bookcases inside with titles that they’ve published, making for a kind of literary trophy case to impress visitors.
For the full story, see:
JONATHAN MAHLER. “Cubicles Rise in a Brave New World of Publishing.” The New York Times (Mon., NOV. 10, 2014): A1 & B6.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date NOV. 9, 2014, and has the title “Climate Tools Seek to Bend Nature’s Path.”)
The Saval book is:
Saval, Nikil. Cubed: A Secret History of the Workplace. New York: Doubleday, 2014.