The Evolution of the Office: How Technology Shapes Workplaces

Henry Bevan, December 18, 2019

Technology shapes where we work. As we enter a new decade, it’s time to reflect on how office technology drives the workplace evolution forward...

On average, UK workers spend 42.5 hours at work per week.

This a lot of time spent in the office. Our workplaces are basically second homes, and their technology infrastructure can have a big impact on a worker’s productivity, happiness and mental health.

Office technology is key to making sure staff stress levels remain as low as possible.

office technology evolution stress free staff

Offices have been around since Ancient Rome and they often reflect society’s technological and cultural advancements. Over time, employers have shifted their concerns away from pure productivity, preferring safe work environments.

So, how did we get here? And, where do we go next?

The Office of the Past

Ancient civilisations didn’t exist solely on agriculture or military might. The Roman Empire needed office workers to keep their legal system running. Offices were a vital part of every town’s Forum. Office technology at this time was what you’d expect: a quill, paper and maybe an abacus.

 

ancient rome evolution of the office technology

However, it wasn’t until the 20th century that workplaces and office technology shared a commonality with modern workplaces. The invention of the telephone, dictation machines, and typewriters opened up new avenues of work.

Thanks to Frank Lloyd Wright’s open-plan architecture, offices became wall-less halls filled with desks, typewriters and ringing phones. Office technology enabled staff to communicate inside and outside their walls and tightened economic bonds throughout the country.

 

cube farm evolution of the office

In the 1980's, “cube farms” entered our offices as workers were pinned into cheap offices-within-offices. While this helped businesses make the most of the 1980s Thatcherite capitalism, it worsened staff morale.

The Office of the Present

However, office technology really started to develop (and develop our office culture) in the 1990s.

Powerful computers became cheaper and offices replaced their fax machines with email. Why? Because of the internet.

group-of-people-watching-on-laptop-1595385

The internet changed everything. Intra-office communication is easier than ever. Emails became the most popular way to communicate. So much so, new software such as Microsoft Teams markets itself as an email alternative -- the next step in digital collaboration.

Digital storage now means the cloud as memory sticks are going the way of the floppy disk. Offices have responded by streamlining equipment and introducing BYOD policies. Remote working is more popular than ever.

The office is no more...

The Office of the Future

Office technology is driving new changes. Remote working tools keep staff mobile. They can work from anywhere at any time.

This office technology evolution goes hand in hand with the demands of Generation Z. As they enter the workforce, their biggest requirement is a better work-life harmony.

 

remote working evolution of office technology

 

However, some major companies, including IBM, are resisting work-from-home policies as they believe a physical workspace boosts collaboration, communication and health.

Developments in office technology will enable a more inviting office design. WiFi-enabled rocks, BYOD for hot-desking and apps will make workplaces more inviting spaces.

Office technology is will enable workplaces to be more welcoming, more spacious and places people actually want to work. A greater work-life balance isn’t about working from home. It’s about making sure work becomes a more fulfilling part of life.

 

If you're looking for an office of the future, please contact your local ITEC Account Management team today

 

 

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