The piece begins:
At VideoAmp, a software and data platform, CEO Rory McCray “encourages an environment where his employees practically live at the office,” the BBC reported in February 2017. Personal trainers, yoga instruction, meals, and games are all provided at the Santa Monica office, and employees come in early, get “addicted to productivity” and often stay late.
Meanwhile, WeWork, a startup that leases co-working and office space, is involved in renovating Dock 72, a massive 675,000-square-foot building located in Brooklyn’s Navy Yard. And Dock 72, which boasts amenities that include organic food, conference rooms, and fitness centers—not to mention the promise of serendipitous encounters with other extroverted entrepreneurs—could be, according to the New York Times, “the kind of place you never have to leave.”
While these attempts at packing workspaces with everything a worker might need to live seem novel, they actually have a direct, and rather shadowy, historical parallel. Unbeknownst to them, VideoAmp, WeWork, and many more prominent tech companies such as Google and Facebook are drawing on a model that, up through the early parts of the 20th century, was a social experiment implemented at coal mines, textile mills, steel plants, and even chocolate factories: the company town.
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