By John Arenas | May 28, 2014

Workplace Evolution: The Must-Read Series

We see workplace culture changing around us every day and finally, people are really talking about it.

Plenty of people have a love-hate relationship with their office that stems from interactions with co-workers, especially bosses; but what about the relationship with office structure itself?

Just last week the popular online magazine, Slate, published The Longform Guide to Cubicle Culture. The list details the hottest books, essays, and articles on the evolution of workplace culture. Over the next couple weeks we will share thoughts on our favorite must-reads.

The Office of the Future, Businessweek, June 1975

This blast from the past discusses how word processing will change the corporate workplace, resulting in a completely paperless office. At this time the current CEO of Xerox, George E. Pake, believed that in 20 years (1995) the office would be completely paperless. Ironically, in 2014, many offices are still transitioning to electronic filing systems.

Moreover, the author questions if desktops will ever be “friendly” enough for the average worker to navigate. He asks, “Should a lot of powerful machines be moved together with central libraries and thus break up traditional working relationships?” Apparently, people were already dreaming of coworking spaces or collaborative open floor plan offices almost 40 years ago.

The article also speaks to the ways our view of technology has changed. The author repeatedly mentions how people “fear” the coming changes that word processing and electronic filing would bring. Today, changes and technological advances excite us. We’re already skilled operators; and the result of this is a constant craving for faster, better, smarter and more efficient machines.

In contrast, other pieces that made the Longform Guide are more modern. However, they still raise plenty of thought provoking questions that so many of us can relate to, such as, where did cubicles come from? And what is work-life balance?

Stay tuned for more from this must-read series.  You can also read more on workplace culture in “How Did We Get Here? A History of the Modern Office.”

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