Magazine February 10, 2020, Issue

The Way We Work Now

(Charles Platiau/Reuters)

I have a friend upstate whose tech job brings him once a week to the city. His urban workplace embodies the very latest theories of postindustrial aesthetics and worker productivity. The room has no drop ceiling; up there all the pipes are exposed. The floor plan is open, the tables communal. The floor is concrete, with no carpeting. The bareness, the acoustic brightness, and the abolition of privacy are meant to encourage interaction, spontaneous teamwork, and intellectual stimulation. Inspiration and ideas will zip back and forth, frictionless, just as they did at Menlo Park, Renaissance Florence, and Socrates’ Piraeus.

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