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Saving Introverts From the Soul-Destroying Open-Plan Office

The plan to make your dream of workplace serenity come true

Illustration by Justin Metz; Photograph by Boru O’Brien O’Connell

I’m sitting in a small office in Chicago, typing on my laptop and talking on my cell phone. There’s a built-in desk, a monitor on the wall, shelves to one side, and a highly ergonomic chair. Colorful striations, meant to evoke a library’s rows of books, decorate the space. The door and one wall are frosted glass, turning the people walking by into soundless, blurry ghosts. It’s all very new and sleek but also cozy, as if the designers were channeling the aesthetic of a boutique hotel, which, I’m told, they were. On one of the shelves near the floor sits a pair of brown wingtips. I have no idea why they’re there, because this isn’t my office.