The office stripped bare

A new 'biography of the office' from Melbourne-based writer Gideon Haigh captures at last the centrality of office work in our lives.

The office is a microcosm of society, a place where people come together for work and relationships, encounters, confrontations and all sorts of clumsy adjustments to get things done. Today’s office, however, is in a state of flux through the impact of outsourcing, telecommuting, hot-desking and the rise of Wi-Fi warriors tapping away at their lap tops in cafes and bars. But then, as Gideon Haigh writes at the end of his latest book, The Office (Melbourne University Publishing), it’s an institution that’s not about to disappear. That’s despite us now being in an era of conclusions with pronouncements about the end all sorts of things, from the end of America and the end of history to the end of oil and the end of ideology.

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