Cubed Book Summary By Nikil Saval

*This post contains affiliate links, and we may earn an affiliate commission without it ever affecting the price you pay.

Cubed, written by Nikil Saval and published in 2014, provides an intriguing insight into the development of the modern office.

The book traces the history of cubicles from their humble beginnings as simple divider walls to their current status as beige boxes in which so many workers around the world toil away each day.

Savals's narrative takes readers on a journey through time and space – from the early days at Progressive Insurance to the present day, where cubicles are ubiquitous in all kinds of workplaces.

Every step of the way is explored and explained with meticulous detail and thoughtful analysis; readers will come away with a fresh perspective on this overlooked aspect of modern working life.

Cubed is an informative and entertaining look at how we work today.

Cubed Book

Book Name: Cubed (A Secret History of the Workplace)

Author(s): Nikil Saval

Rating: 4/5

Reading Time: 12 Minutes

Categories: Corporate Culture

Author Bio

Nikil Saval is a renowned American writer whose work centers around culture, politics and literature.

He hails from Philadelphia and currently serves as an editor at n+1, a New York-based literary magazine.

Saval has written several books including the 2019 British Book Awards winner 'Cubed', which offers readers a riveting narrative of the transformation of the modern office space over three centuries.

His passion for writing and keen eye for detail make his works impeccable, offering an insightful exploration into the history and development of architecture, industry and more.

Through Cubed, Saval invites readers on an intriguing journey through time to uncover the secrets of the cubicle world.

The History Of The Office: How The Cubicle Came To Dominate Our Work Spaces

History Of The Office

Are you curious about how the modern office space came to be? Embark on an enlightening historical journey with Natures Nutrition’s Cubed Book Summary and discover how the workplace evolved over time.

From tight, dim clerks’ quarters in mid-nineteenth century to designer skyscrapers with barbershops, this book dives deep into the history of the office – from Taylor’s efforts to tame chaos in the workplace, to a bomb that led to segregation between factory and office workers and ultimately, to cubicles that found its inception through a new concept of movement.

The Unrecognized Clerks Of The Mid-19Th Century: The Office Workers Who Helped Make Industrialization Possible

Industrialization provided the means to increase production and efficiency in the workplace.

But it also led to a new position: the clerk.

As an entry-level job, clerks were tasked with filing papers, paying bills and organizing accounts for a company or organization.

This was something unheard of before industrialization when manual workers did it all by themselves.

The shift in the way people worked brought about a spacial separation between manual and non-manual laborers, which meant that clerks could be found in separate office spaces from factories or with distinct entrances within one roof.

The growth of the number of clerks also led to closer interactions between clerks and their bosses as well as better relationships amongst them.

This evolved into a “right-hand man” kind of cooperation until advancements in technology eventually disrupted this workplace model.

In The Sixty Years From 1860 To 1920, The Clerk Would Witness A Dramatic Transformation Of Workplace Conditions

The development of business over a 60-year period from 1860 to 1920 was accompanied by an increase of technology and an expansion of office space.

This growth enabled longer reach distances through railways, faster exchange of information via the telephone and telegraph and room for more employees with bigger businesses.

However, due to the lack of knowledge in the field of work management, the influx of workers caused much confusion in the office.

To counteract this problem arose Frederick Taylor (1856-1915) and his method known as Taylorism – designed to bring order, efficency, and speed to businesses by dividing up tasks into specialized segments that are quick to perform.

This gave rise to the science of work efficiency which brought about an evolution in working conditions and was key in creating established fields and administrative branches within many businesses today.

The Rise Of The Skyscraper Office: How Business Leaders Used Amenities To Distinguish Office Workers From Factory Workers

Business Leaders
Millennial employees gathered in boardroom for training, black boss ceo leader leading corporate team during seminar learning at modern office. Internship and leadership coaching and education concept

By the mid-twentieth century, buildings had become so tall that they seemed to touch the sky.

Taller and taller office buildings rose up, symbolizing both a desire to succeed and a new way of working.

Skyscrapers allowed managers to stack offices on top of one another in large cities like New York and Chicago, adding around 74 million square feet of office space in just New York by 1923.

The offices inside these skyscrapers weren’t particularly special though – workers needed some incentive to feel different from factory workers.

Because labor movements were getting quite active in places like Chicago and pushing back against capitalism, business leaders decided that these workers should be well taken care of with amenities such as libraries, dentists and barber’s shops.

This way, office workers could feel respected and important enough to contribute fully to the grand enterprise their bosses were aiming for.

The Bürolandschaft Revolution: How The Innovative Office Design Concept Transcended Europe And Changed Workplaces Worldwide

In the post-war years, a revolutionary new office design was born – the organic office landscape.

The concept originated in Germany, where bombed cities presented a perfect opportunity to start anew and imagine different ways of designing spaces for offices.

The idea of an organic office design caught on with German brothers Wolfgang and Eberhard Schnelle who founded Quickborner, a space-planning firm.

Unlike existing hierarchical structures at the time, their thought process centered around how human interaction and varying needs of privacy/interaction should drive office space designs.

The concept also spread quickly across Europe as firms adopted the idea followed by its move to Sweden and even further to England and America where companies were excited to get rid of outdated offices for something more contemporary.

The Disastrous Aftermath Of Companies Trying To Cheaper Solutions For The Office Space

Office Space

When it comes to creating a comfortable and productive workspace, noise levels are often overlooked, but employers have long sought ways to reduce the distractions of office noise.

The open-plan offices of the 1960s were filled with desks and workers typing, walking, and talking—and this led to an undeniable level of noisiness.

Companies tried installing sound screens between those desks to help muffle the racket; yet this wasn’t a foolproof solution because their use was determined by job hierarchy.

Unfortunately, even the sound screens weren’t able to properly block out high-pitched noises or ringing telephones.

Over time, companies sought solutions that did not just look good but also solved problems effectively while being budget-friendly.

Afterward experiments such as Robert Propst’s Action Office and other creative attempts at workplace innovation fell short – leading us eventually to where we are today: inundated with cheap cubicles crammed into large open offices as a cost-effective way to divide up employees without sacrificing style or productivity.

Wrap Up

The overall message in Cubed: A Secret History of the Workplace is that the cubicle we know today was a product of many changes that have taken place over time.

From technological advances and economic needs, to various beliefs surrounding workspace organization.

As the book looks at many different aspects of office design, it becomes clear that people’s lives have changed significantly due to it – both in good ways and bad.

It is an interesting read, not only because of the history behind office spaces, but also because of its lessons into the ways we can better organize and use our own workspaces.

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.