Are we seeing the return of the closed-door office? I hope not.

A 1960s-style open office, with rows of desks and people working.
An open office, 1960s-style. | Photo: United Artists

So it seems that Google, the exemplar of the open-office concept, is trying now to figure out how to keep its design ideals intact while offering its employees at least some feeling of safety in these 6-foot-apart times. Apparently, these measures may include a number of interesting concepts, such as inflatable walls. (A GIF of one of those walls slowly unfolding nearly had me doing a spit-take with my morning coffee.)

These rather complex measures may have some people wondering whether we should abandon the entire open-office concept and go back to a more old-fashioned — but in these pandemic days, safer — plan of separate offices and high-walled cubicles. To tell you the truth, it doesn’t sound like a bad idea. But.

First, let me…

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