Cubed: The Two Futures of the Office
The huge debate that took place in 2013 when Yahoo! ended its flexible work policy suggests that office workers have strong conceptions of how a workplace should be structured. My presentation, drawn from my book CUBED: The Secret History of the Office, will address the future of the office in light of two related shifts: the rapid increase in freelancers, and the increasing preference of office workers to determine how and where they work. I’ve traveled all over the world to see the changes of the office in action, from Bangalore to Amsterdam. I’ve spent time with the great furniture manufacturers, Herman Miller and Steelcase, in Grand Rapids. Companies are seeing space as a liability, resulting in an office landscape that’s much more open to change and fluidity. In offices like Microsoft Amsterdam, workers have no fixed workspace and no fixed hours: total autonomy. In short, my presentation will make sense of this controlled chaos for entrepreneurs, office workers, and communities.
Nikil Saval is an editor of n+1. His writing and opinions have appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Slate, Huffington Post, the London Review of Books, and elsewhere. His book Cubed, on the history and future of the office, is forthcoming from Doubleday in 2014. He was also a co-editor of Occupy!: Scenes from Occupied America [Verso, 2012]. He lives in Philadelphia.