Not only is the “cool office” a myth, it isn’t a novelty either. Consider “the Open Office Space Panopticon” like this:
Trading in a cubicle for a shared desk not only encourages conformity — no more quirky puppy posters! — but also lets your boss see what you’re doing at all times. Or at least he or she wants you to think that. On top of that feeling of watchfulness that also exists in a cubicle plan, management has also made it so that your co-workers act as a surveillance state as well. Not only do workers internalize the ever-watching boss, but they have their nosy cube mates to keep them on track too.
But it’s not new, either. Consider the photo to the right of the “open office” of New Orléans based distributor-of-everything Woodard-Wight & Co., taken in 1973. Sure there are no computers and the furniture was old even then, but the concept is the same, especially for the bosses (with their closed offices in the corner) using the desk neighbours to keep tabs on each other. (Click on the photo for more background.)
Whatever has happened before will happen again. Whatever has been done before will be done again. There is nothing new under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9 GW)