Cubicles' Predecessor Conceived 40 Years Ago
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
And today's last word in business is a Happy 40th Birthday to a symbol of modern workplace culture that we all know and love or hate. In 1968, a young designer at a Michigan furniture company wanted to replace the open bullpen-style workplace, which dominated offices at the time and he came up with something that he called the action office.
The new modular furniture gave workers more privacy. You know, put some walls around the desk. But also the ability to collaborate, plenty of desk space to lay out work. Managers could reconfigure the space quickly and cheaply.
Action offices were a hit, although the name did not survive. Companies soon shrunk the space to pack in more workers and action offices eventually became what we know as cubicles. Even their inventor once lamented his unwitting contribution to what he called monolithic insanity. But they still sell. So until something better comes along, here's to you cubicle - 40 years.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.