Computers are now ubiquitous in offices around the world; entire economies would crash without them. Whether they are used within a multinational corporation or a one-man hedge-pruning outfit, computers are now as important as the workers themselves. It is hard to remember life without them, but civilisation managed to overcome many turbulent times without a reliance on Microsoft’s latest desktop software. The Roman Empire ruled the world for centuries without even the merest hint of corporate accountancy software. In fact, it is almost impossible to imagine what office workers could possibly have done with their time before the dawn of the information age. The following three tasks were commonplace before IBM and Apple changed the world.
This may sound a little crazy, but office workers were forced to spend their time being productive before the distractions of Facebook and Twitter were unleashed on the world. Entire marketing teams would deliver projects on time as a result of speaking to real people. Hard-working accounts staff would never have to pretend they were compiling cost reports when the boss approached, as there was no such thing as Windows Solitaire in those days. Free from the chains of social media and countless online casinos, office workers were able to fully immerse themselves in their work.
It seems strange now, but there was a time when office workers would converse on a face-to-face basis. Old-fashioned sexism was in its prime, and chat-up lines were perfected on a daily basis. Without chat-rooms, social media and email, people had no other option than to talk to colleagues. This state of affairs is a world away from the office environment of today; one where talking to a colleague only yards away involves a flurry of error-strewn emails.
The humble pen has almost been confined to the annals of history. Instead, computers are now used for everything from making notes to ordering lunch. The art of writing a letter or memo by hand has been forgotten; banished to museums and the anecdotes of elderly relatives. Of course, everything is quicker now, and emails rarely get lost in the post. However, there was a certain skill to letter-writing that improved a person’s overall communication skills. Unfortunately, the modern equivalent of good communication is the ability to decipher a positive grunt from a negative one.
No one can dispute the fact that computers have made our lives easier. What once took several days now takes a fraction of a second. However, the price we all pay for technological advances is reduced human interaction. Is that a price worth paying?