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The Early Years


Where it all began

Way back in the 1700s, complex organisations such as the Royal Navy and the East India Company constructed the first offices to help maximise productivity through strong centralised bases of operations



Enter the typewriter

150 years later, Peter Mitterhofer successfully developed several fully functional typewriters and for the next 100 years they would continue to feature as an instrumental office tool




In the wake of the second industrial revolution, the telephone was a ground-breaking invention that opened a world of opportunity for conducting business over long distances

The 1900s



Here to stay

As offices became essential to any serious business, Sears headquarters was completed and measured roughly 3,000,000 square feet, making it the largest building in the world at the time


The typing revolution

In an effort to modernise the way work was completed, the mechanical typewriter attained a standardised design and began to see mass adoption throughout the world


Women on the Home Front

During the horrors of the First World War, the resulting labour shortage saw many women begin to take up new roles on the Home Front, and as such they became the majority of the typist workforce

Crowded office


Making space

As the Great War raged on, businesses continued to look for the best way to maximise output. The Time and Motion study found that managers needed to become more involved in order to boost productivity. This lead to a surge in open plan offices

Women in the workplace


A force for change

The continued labour shortage of the early 20s, caused by the catastrophic losses of the previous decade, gave thousands of eager and empowered women the opportunity to move beyond their traditional roles. Whilst most women were still housewives, the number of those employed rose by 25%


The new norm

Similarly, the Second World War saw yet another major influx of women joining the workforce, cementing their position in the office for good

Office cubicles


No distractions

By the mid-20th century, privacy and discretion were the name of the game. In 1964, Herman Miller began producing office cubicles to ensure these needs were met


It's a small world

With the advent of video conferencing, yet another communication barrier was lifted, allowing face-to-face meetings from opposite ends of the globe


A digital future

In the second half of the 20th century, typewriters began to be rapidly replaced by personal computers and low cost/high quality printers, significantly reducing the need for the vast office spaces of the past


Time to go mobile

The digital revolution continued and fax machines, which allowed documents to be produced thousands of miles away, became a mainstay in the office


Ease of access

In the heart of Silicon Valley, two Americans developed a program which allowed users to place graphs and flow charts into presentations. Several years later, this program was then sold to Microsoft for just under $30 million, and renamed PowerPoint


Here today, gone tomorrow

What goes up must come down, and when IBM sold its typewriter division to Lexmark, it signalled the end of an era for this office technology

Early computer


Out with the old

The rapid switch from typewriters to personal computers was a momentous and speedy evolution for office technology. Although these days, in accordance with Moore's Law, rapid adoption is now commonplace in offices across the world

Modern office


A global stage

As technology improved, the world as we knew it became that much smaller. The rise of the internet, from just 500,000 users in 1989 to 248 million in 1999, gave way to a new age of communication, connectivity, and ultimately productivity

The 2000s

Improved communication


Room to breathe

At the turn of the millennium it became clear that office cubicles, whilst still popular, often led to a stifling of creativity and so they saw a significant decline

Connected world


Digital Transformation

The rise of computers in the 90s was just the start and by the mid-00s 'Digital Transformation' was well underway. Google had become an indispensable tool for research, wi-fi allowed even more freedom of movement, and this in turn encouraged the growth of Bring Your Own Device culture among employees


Equal opportunity

As the workplace evolved, so too did its workers - the Equality Act of 2010, combining previous anti-discrimination acts, gave increased legal protection to minorities and women within the workplace in a drive to improve inclusivity

New technologies


The Internet of Things

By 2012, the IoT had begun to take root in offices globally. By using smart sensors to record data, then analyse and leverage that data, offices were able to both increase productivity and cut costs with simple measures such as better monitoring of office temperatures and schedules

Remote working


It's a very small world

Mirroring the technological leaps of previous decades, communication tools such as Slack and Skype and programs like Google Docs and Dropbox started making it easier than ever before for employees to stay up to date, no matter where they were

Present Day

Diminishing returns

Even though the world has been steadily returning to open plan offices, they have also decreased in size. In 2010 the average space per employee was 225 square feet, but fell to just 151 square feet in 2017

The Future

Future workplace

Spreading out?

As space per employee is diminishing, working from home is more popular than ever. The BYOD culture combined with ease of access and flexible working led OddsMonkey to estimate that half of the UK workforce will be working remotely by 2020

These days we are well accustomed to new technologies arriving every day. 20 years ago, we didn't even know what a smartphone was, yet in 2016 there were an estimated 2.16 billion smartphones in the world

With Artificial Intelligence (AI), smarter technology and completely remote work already on the horizon, expect the offices of the future to look very different. In fact, Adobe estimates that 31% of businesses will have adopted AI in the next 12 months, with the International Data Corporation estimating that global spend on AI will reach $57.6 billion by 2021.

Typewriter Telephone Office Crowded office Women in the workplace Office cubicles Early computer Modern office Improved communication Connected world New technologies Remote working Future workplace