Workplace Communication Through The Ages

Published on 12/02/2020


When you think back over changes in the way we communicate, it’s quite an interesting subject to explore. 

Can you remember a time before mobile phones? We are all so attached to our devices these days that life without them tends to cause panic and distress! However, it’s only really in the late 1990s when such phones became a common part of our daily lives. Before that time, only businessmen and women had these and they were huge chunks of plastic, with large aerials that protruded out of the top! Very different to the sleek, touchscreen smartphones we have these days, that’s for sure. 

Effective communication has become far easier as a result of technological advancements within the modern day office. For example, you can now sit at your office desk and discuss work with someone who is thousands of miles away, making remote working arrangements far more commonplace than ever before.

Check out this infographic which gives a very useful insight into the history of communication in general. 

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It’s no surprise that there have been so many swift developments over the recent years when it comes to communication because the ability to converse and transmit information accurately and carefully is one of the cornerstones of business success in general. 

You can overcome awkward office encounters and misunderstandings by having the right communication skills, and you can persuade new clients and customers to work with you instead of someone else. It all hinges on what you say and how you say it. Of course, it also hinges on your body language, and what you don’t say too!

Let’s look at a few of the most commonplace communication methods we use in the workplace and work out when they date back to. 


There are many claims to who actually invented the telephone but we widely credit Alexander Graham Bell with this. Bell was the first person to win a US patient for the telephone, although it looked very different back then to how it does now!

Whilst most businesses have a landline number these days, many homes don’t; we tend to rely upon mobile phones far more. 

Fax Machines

One of the earliest methods of written communication between businesses and their clients came in the form of faxes. Fax machines actually date back to around 1843, invented by Alexander Bain, a Scottish inventor and mechanic. 

These days, fax machines are very hard to find as most written communication is now sent via email instead.

Video Calls

Despite the fact that the Internet didn’t come to prominence until 1990, video calls have been in place for many years before that. The first video calls took place in the late 1920s, and into the 1930s, becoming popular first of all in Germany. 

Skype was invented in 2003, which has become many people’s regular go-to for quick communication with customers, clients, and of course, for personal use at home too. In a business setting, you can sit around the boardroom tables and have meetings with companies who are thousands of miles away. Whilst time zones can be an issue, you can overcome that with effective scheduling. 


Without a doubt, the most common way of communicating these days is via email. Email was invented back in 1972 by Ray Tomlinson and has literally taken over the world in terms of how businesses communicate. Email can also be used as a very clever marketing campaign, and whilst spam emails appearing in your inbox can be quite the annoyance, receiving a carefully targeted and informative email from a company you’re interested in working with, can be a pleasant surprise too!

Of course, we also communicate via messaging apps, such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. We use social media for marketing and personal use, with Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter taking up most of our time, both inside and outside of the office. 

Workplace communication methods have certainly changed over the years, but if you compare where we were several decades ago, to where we are now, you can certainly say that we’re far better off!

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