Return to the office - Deepstash

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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  • 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.

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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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  • 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.

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The 1950s workplace - the open-plan office

At first, office layouts were influenced by the production or factory line. Rows of desks fitted tightly together, but managers and executives had private offices with windows so they could supervise workers.

In the 1950s, the workplace design style became less rigid. The emphasis was placed on meeting the needs of the workforce with a more fluid design. It resulted in a more social environment where collaboration between teams increased.

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The Purpose Of The Office Has Changed

The pandemic has been an extended experiment for most companies who are trying to manage people working from home.

Instead of making it mandatory to attend the office physically like before, many companies have adopted a hybrid model where one could go to the office once a week and work from home the rest of the days.

This new approach changes the purpose of coming to the office.

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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 handles.
  • You may tell the elevator where to stop, rather than pressing buttons.
  • You may walk into a room full of dividers and well-spaced desks.
  • Meeting rooms and kitchens may have fewer chairs.
  • There may be more frequent cleaning policies and better ventilation systems.

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