Workplace fads are like fashions - wait long enough and your '70s-style wood-paneled den will be hip again. (Or so I hope.)
Perhaps it's just that I'm getting more introverted as I age (which reminds me of a line from a novel I'm reading: “I imagine you are [a shit]. But that’s normal, isn’t it? One becomes more of a shit as one gets older"), but it seems like the opportunities to mingle have increased exponentially lately. Especially for ops to meet and greet der Fuhrers in the organization.
Call it "management by over-communication". For example, there's the development of the "skip-level meeting". This used to be bug, not a feature, as in, "you mean you went over the head of your boss?" Now I have quarterly meetings with my bosses' boss, bi-annual meetings with his boss and annual meetings with his boss. And what about that bosses' boss? Yes, he's coming around next week to visit us, to walk through the aisles of cubicles and see if we're sufficiently perky and 'engaged'. Oh and also to see if we have posted our personal mission statements.
Another recent development is to have groups that represent groups to upper management. Termed "advisory boards", they consist of employees chosen to represent others and to funnel any complaints, suggestions or comments to management. There was a board for our VP, and now it's come down to AVP level. What's next? Will my boss, currently with three employees under him, have an advisory board? Will we each be our own advisory boards and advise and complain to ourselves?