The digital world has shaped the way we go about doing our work and the way in which we use our offices today. Today the computer is the office – it’s got a desktop, folders, files, documents and even a litter bin.
Always connected, we are never completely away from the office and technology grows fast to keep up with the demands of the modern workplace.
Rita Dugan of Bournemouth University says: “Stress levels were not as great in the ’80s, as technology did not allow instant responses to enquiries. People tended to talk to you rather than converse electronically. This meant that issues rarely became crises, because talking tended to solve the problem.”
Technology development in the 80s
While it’s almost impossible to imagine working in a smoky environment and relying on faxes for up-to-date information, the 80s was a decade of vital technological development:
1981: The ubiquitous Post-It note arrived on our desks
1984: The first Apple Mac computer went on sale
1985: The first dot.com business was registered in 1985
1986: The first widespread use of laser printers
1989: The worldwide web arrived – the biggest single change to the way we work
Then and now:
In just a few short decades, a lot has changed in our work space. Technology has shrunk the working world, made information freely available, altered how we communicate and fundamentally changed the way employees behave and where they choose to work.
Then: He’s out having lunch so I’ll get him to call you back later
Now: He’s out having lunch but you can call him on his mobile
Then: Photocopying and handing out a memo to everyone
Now: Email to all users
Then: She’s off sick today but we’re hoping she’ll be in tomorrow
Now: She’s off sick today so she’s working from home
Then: Luke’s on holiday this week, he’ll be back in a few days
Now: Luke’s on holiday this week but you can get him on his email, he’ll be checking it regularly
Then: Faxing through updated figures once a week
Now: An online reporting system that everyone feeds into remotely and is updated in real time
Then: Handing out your business card at every opportunity
Now: Being viewed on LinkedIn before you’ve even met
Then: Booking a meeting room for a brainstorm and buying in props and pastries
Now: Could you email me some ideas please?
Then: Leaving the office at 5.30pm
Now: Checking your email at 5.30pm for any last minute requests
Then: Lever arch files
Now: Backup server
“Going to work” is now less about being at a particular location, getting face time, chatting up with co-workers and being “in the office.” In almost every industry, it is more about getting things done, servicing clients, completing projects, managing co-workers, etc., regardless of where you are.