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In 1857, the Otis Elevator debuted inside E.V. Haughwout, a New York department store. It instantly freed consumers from the exertion required to climb stairs, paving the way for taller buildings and office towers.
In 1908, a cotton mill in New England with many Jewish workers started to close on Saturdays and Sundays.
Hearing about this, labour unions started to push towards a five-day week nationwide, making the concept mainstream.
In 1956, a funky rotary device placed on the desktop worked well to store and retrieve contact details. Even today, when everything is digital, the Rolodex is widely used in office tables.
In 1966, a trade group in Honolulu encouraged local workers to wear colourful hawaiian shirts on Fridays, naming the practice ‘Aloha Fridays’. This idea of casual wear on weekends was quickly picked up everywhere.
In 1968, Action Office, a range of modular furniture, was introduced by Herman Miller, helping office planners create partial walls to enhance employee privacy. This sparked a revolution in workspace design, and the cubicle sprouted in almost all offices. Many think of this idea of closed, cramped workspace as dehumanizing.
In 1975, a tech company we haven’t heard from since, launched the Altair 8800, the first desktop computer. Offices were never the same again, and as computers became more powerful, every aspect of how work is done started to change.
In 1983, MCI launched a communication tool for business: e-mail. Offices at that time worked using files with red strings. The company went away in a few years, but the idea of digital letters for formal communication stayed, with companies like Microsoft, Yahoo and later Google capitalizing on it.
In 1994, office chairs with ergonomic design to assist better posture and prevent back injuries were debuted, transforming the office yet again. It remains a bestseller even today.
In 1995, freelance workers and other people working alone were introduced to coworking. It was a simple idea of people working independently to get together and work under the same roof while enjoying food and activities. It eventually led to the launch of WeWork in 2000.
In 2013, the email got a worthy upgrade with Slack, a business communication tool inspired by social media and chat apps. It helped remote teams(with people all over the globe) work together with ease, though its impact is yet to be determined.
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