In the early years of the Industrial Revolution, Richard Arkwright came up with the concept of what would become the world's first factory — Cromford Mill, England — and what would prove so effective that it would be copied all over Europe. He needed a place to store large machines (water frames, specifically), and he needed people to operate them. His idea was to have the machines operated 24 hours a day, in two 12-hour shifts, with workers living next to the mill for convenience. (He also used cheap child labor, so, no, not all his ideas were sound.)
The largest machine to operate at work today is the 17-inch Macbook Pro, and shifts are much more humane — yet the core principle seems to remain.
The modern office is closely modeled after the factory, the design of which made a lot of sense in the industrial economy, but is difficult to justify in the information economy.