According to the LA Times article, the average office has gone from 500-700 square feet per employee in the 1970s to 200 square feet per employee today. This is quite a reduction, especially considering the average employee has probably increased in girth by about the same proportion over that time.
What's to blame for the change? For one, all companies are now poor and must do more with less. Haven't you seen all those hedge funds that reduced their workforce to a single naked man wearing a barrel, which also doubles as his cubicle? So, blame the recession.
But also blame young people, and their fancy Ivy League notions about "collaboration" and "teamwork":
Many companies are emphasizing teamwork, and younger employees accustomed to working anywhere but at a desk are turning up their noses at the hierarchical formality of traditional offices. In addition, familiar technologies such as laptop computers, cellphones and videoconferencing are finally beginning to affect the way offices are laid out.
By 2015, when experts predict each employee will be afforded only 50 square feet, offices will be made of a labyrinth of cylindrical pods, where young, impoverished workers are stacked like cordwood and collaboration is easily facilitated by a never-ending exchange of pheromones and bodily fluids.