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A short history of the office

A slow change from home to office

A slow change from home to office

The office's history shows how our work has changed and how work's physical spaces respond to cultural, technological, and social influences

  • During medieval times, most people worked from home.
  • A turning point came during the 17th century. Lawyers, civil servants, and other new professionals began to work from offices in Amsterdam, London, and Paris. However, other professions continued working from home.
  • In the 19th century, banking dynasties operated from luxurious homes to make clients feel at ease.
  • Over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries, specialized office designs reinforced a distinction between work and home.

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

A short history of the office

A short history of the office

https://theconversation.com/a-short-history-of-the-office-82000

theconversation.com

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Key Ideas

At first, the office was an activity before it was a place

  • Before the modern office, monasteries introduced timekeeping to the monk's daily routines.
  • Later, the office was understood to be a factory-like environment.
  • Work was depicted as a series of tasks that could be rationalised, standardised and calculated into an efficient production machine.

How changes in technology influenced the office

  • The telegraph, telephone, and dictating machine changed the concept of work and office design as telecommunications meant office could be separate from factories and warehouses and differentiate between white and blue-collar workers.
  • While these technologies made a distributed workforce possible, American offices became more centralised.
  • Online connectivity potentially ensures a move away from the office to working from home.

Return to the office

Anthropological research shows how physical proximity increases interactions. The office is an important factor in communicating the necessary cues of leadership, collaboration, and communication.

Although employees might move back to the physical space of the office again, boundaries are changing.

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Changes you may see

If and when you return to your office after the pandemic, you'll probably notice some changes.

  • The doors of the building may open automatically, so you don't have to touch the handl...
Working from home

Before the pandemic, only 4 percent of the US workforce worked from home at least half the time. However, the trend of working from home had been gaining momentum for years.

It is estimated that within a couple of years, 30% of people will work from home multiple days per week.

Continued remote work
  • Before the pandemic, a lot of company management and leaders were skeptical regarding remote work. But the skepticism will go away because companies recognize that remote work does work.
  • The economic impact of the pandemic will likely force employers to cut costs. They may reduce their rent by letting workers work from home instead of layoffs.
  • Employers had to spend money on new technology and equipment to work from home - a departure from the norm.
  • Employees themselves are also spending more money to create better home offices.

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Early times

Before the Industrial revolution, everyone worked out of their home and sold their goods from there. With the Industrial Revolution came the need for automation and factories, and employ...

From factories to cubicles to WiFi

Just after WW2, there was a rise in corporate headquarters and larger office spaces and cubicles. During this time, the 8-hour workday was established.

Then came the advancements in computers and technology that lead to remote workers of today. The internet and public WiFi allowed employees to do everything they would in their cubicle, but outside the office. They can also work all hours of the day.

Remote work is common

4.3 million people currently work from home in the United States at least half of the time, and this figure has grown by 150% in the last 13 years.  

Remote workers tend to have higher engagement rates and higher productivity levels. Once they switch to remote work, they rarely want to become office bound again.

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Stale Office Air

The air you are breathing in enclosed spaces could be impairing your cognitive function.

Bringing more fresh air inside, or having a good ventilation syste...

Poor Lighting

Being close to natural sunlight can make or break an employee’s experience. 

Productivity gains (and losses) are connected to employees’ environmental conditions, so companies that create ideal office environments with abundant natural light and unobstructed outdoors views will reap the dividends.

The Colleagues You Sit With

People’s moods are contagious. When your co-worker is rude, you will start to catch their bad attitude, too.

Sitting within a 25-foot radius of a high performer could positively boost the performance of colleagues by 15 %.

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