The Workplace Evolution: Then & Now
If you look back at the last 70 years of work culture, it’s hard to miss the substantial changes that have taken place. Not only can this be seen in the environment, but also how we work as employees, collaborate with our colleagues, and relate to those above us on the corporate ladder. When you lay everything out, you can begin to see that the workplace has transformed into a new animal, setting precedence for more modern expectations and a new set of work standards.
Long before the days of jeans and hoodie in the workplace, the 50s offer an incredible contrast to how we’re used to working today.
Not only was it traditionally men who dominated the workforce, office atmospheres were much more formal. In office jobs, employees were typically expected to report at a specific time and place, with the expectation that they’d be in the same place, at the same desk, day after day.
While ideas were certainly exchanged, the hierarchy of power and position with the company had much clearer lines. CEOs on the floor with their employees wasn’t the norm, and the line drawn between boss and employee was a clear one.
Technologically, it was a time of shorthand and typewriters, with telephones, letters and meetings dominating information sharing.
Getting with the 90s.
So what about the 90s? The 1990s were a decade of substantial change. The internet began taking the world by storm, technology was evolving the way people related every day, and the workforce began demanding a different kind of office atmosphere.
As the workplace slowly began its shift towards a bigger tech focus, the tools being used began to change as well. Fax machines and emails were slowly beginning to transition to dial-up modems and instant messages. Even more, although conference calls certainly happened, they were largely audio only.
As a whole, the “startup” work culture was truly beginning to take root, with a more collaborative, unsiloed approach to discussing technology, trends and ideas.
A New Day.
In today’s companies, the idea of a more “flat,” or less hierarchal, system is definitely increasingly commonplace. Walls have been torn down in terms of the boss/employee relationship, making it much easier to collaborate, vet ideas and give/receive feedback.
Likewise, with the ability to work from anywhere, more people than ever are shifting towards a partial or full time remote work schedule. Much of this is due to the technology that allows us to feel connected from anywhere, including laptop and mobile phones, making employees more accessible than ever.
As employees of today, it’s not rare to check email throughout all hours of the day (and night), staying connected to their projects and tasks constantly. However, tech has also evolved to make it easier to collaborate and stay in touch than ever, with the advent of unified, productivity and interaction-based platforms offering video chat, messaging task scheduling, live document collaboration, etc.
The way we work is changing every day, with new technology, evolving norms and an even greater emphasis on connecting with humans to create results. With a significant contrast over the last 70 years, one can only wonder— where will we be in 20 years?