The Evolution of Office Design

Published on 29/04/2018

Everything changes as time moves on. We can apply that to technology, design, the way we work, the way we shop, the way we dress – every single thing progresses and changes with each passing year. This is how we grow!

The same can be said for office design. We’ve moved on from typewriters to laptops and tablets, and office decor has moved on from simple tables and chairs to ergonomically designed spaces. Let’s check out how office design has changed over the years.

The Dawn of The Office

The first known office space dates back as far as the 1800s, when the old British Empire was in full swing. The Royal Navy and East India Trading Company required administration to handle their growing business, and all of this required an office. The classic desks at this time were literally a long table and perhaps a chair on wheels – nothing particularly sophisticated at this point!

As technology began to move on however, so did the design of offices, and we saw typewriters coming into play, telephones, and calculators. In 1864, the very first skyscraper building was built, which housed hundreds of offices.

The First Open Plan Offices

The early 1900s saw the very first open plan offices being developed. These offices saved a lot of space, and could also accommodate a large amount of people, usually within a typing pool – can you imagine the sound of typewriters at that time?

The open plan offices of the early 1900s were designed in lines, so you would have four or five desks in a row, and then the rows would escalate back to the far side of the room.

By the time the 1950s arrived, office design was making use of glass and metal to create a more modern look, and the partition became quite in fashion. This enabled workers to have a quieter space within a large and busy office. Fluorescent lighting and air conditioning also began to make an appearance around this time. Employers began to understand that quality office furniture and comfort made a real difference to staff performance.

Hot-Desking and Shared Spaces

The 80s and 90s saw the introduction of cubicles and hot-desking, as desktop computers began to be introduced widely. As the year 2000 approached, a greater emphasis was placed on comfort, and ergonomic chairs and layouts were introduced with gusto.

From all of this we have arrived at the point we’re at today – shared spaces, co-working hotspots, collaborative zones, quiet zones, and a greater importance placed on comfort and efficiency.

Times sure have changed!

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