The first recognizable office workplaces opened their doors in the 18th century. The Daily Telegraph reports that the Old Admiralty Office, built in 1726, was the first building that we might truly recognize as an office workplace.
It was not until the 20th century that offices really started to become prevalent. Here are some innovations that influenced the evolution of the office, that constantly shifting realm:
Many people will hope that this innovation is becoming a thing of the past. In its day, however, the office cubicle was a step forward. Office architecture is determined by the architecture of collaboration. Designers are always striving to create spaces where workers have the best combination of privacy and interaction. Cubicles were made popular alongside the personal computer. These days they are synonymous with dull work and snooping bosses.
Open plan offices are more in vogue these days, seen to be more conducive to collaboration. If you are planning on converting to an open plan office, it might be worth organizing a visit to a specialist office contractor.
A truly paradigmatic shifting invention, the invention of the telephone signaled the beginning of remote working. Alexander Graham Bell’s first words transmitted by telephone in 1876 completely rewired the way we work.
For the first time, it was practical for office workers to be in different locations. Before the coming of the telephone offices were generally attached to the factories and organizations they served.
The Fax Machine
Fax machines might feel a little archaic today, but the ability to transmit a document from one place to another without resorting to mail changed everything. Mail and courier services were less crucial. Sending a fax was cheap, instant and simple.
The Personal Computer
So many of us work with computers these days that it is easy to forget that they were once a novelty. Office life is designed around the screen. Although business computers were first marketed in the 1950s, it wasn’t until the coming of the personal computer in the early 1980s that office life was changed forever.
By the 1990s, offices were completely dominated by glowing computer terminals. In more recent years, the introduction of the internet has cemented the role of the computer in the workplace. Information sharing over the World Wide Web is now absolutely crucial for the efficient running of an office.
Video conferencing has truly come into its own during the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, the ease with which we can work from home has perhaps brought into question the validity of the office structure in the modern world.
Services such as Zoom allow office workers to collaborate face to face from the safety of a ‘home office’. Everything from government consultations to magazine editorial meetings have moved from the physical office into the virtual one.
Of course, this move into the online workspace hasn’t been entirely positive. These is concern among sociologists and psychologists that the loss of social collaboration in our day to day lives might have drastic knock-on effects.