September 30, 2022
Neil Usher is an energetic, wiry critic of workplaces and offices. Long ago – in 2018, actually – his proposal that the good office is composed of 12 simple elements, beginning with daylight, was also energetic and wiry. Here he widens out from the delicious nitty-gritties of temperature control and lighting in The Elemental Workplace to the wider phenomenon of work. As the title already suggests, the style is laden with expletives: there are no fewer than 25 mentions of the word ‘crap’. He is withering, too, about the ‘easiest fat-arsed squatting duck of targets, the hapless office, with its rituals and theatrics’. On top of a fresh, Elemental-style bow to the nostrum of inclusion, there is a critique of management fads, but also reference made to (white male) privilege, plus, in a lofty manner, ‘our essentially Stone Age cognitive wiring’.