I was recently asked to get involved with the #BoardroomEtiquette campaign being run by workplace furniture experts Calibre Office Furniture. They want to discuss the changes in office behaviour over time. Where I work has certainly changed since the building was erected, in the 1960s, and as many of those with long service awards are approaching retirement, now’s a good time to tell some of the funny tales I’ve heard.
Some of the people I work with have been in the same company for 30 years or more. I used to work with some people who had been in the office block since it was built. Longevity of service certainly brings some tall tales, that really make my eyes stretch as I hear them. Here are a few of my favourite old school practices, that have long since disappeared:
There used to be a tea trolley, that visited all the floors of the building so that workers didn’t have to stop whatever they were doing for too long, in order to grab a sandwich or scone. So far, so normal office behaviour, and not too out-moded, you might think. Well, yes, except that the tea trolley’s presence signaled that it was “sherry o’clock” and they’d pour themselves a wee schooner to sip at while they worked.
Mr & Mrs
People used to refer to each other as “Miss Philpot” and “Mr Shaw” (or whatever their surname really is) rather than their first name. Some of the correspondence I read now, particularly if it’s been written by someone with long service, has the occasional slip into a previous way of working. It’s rather quaint office behaviour, and I do occasionally come across members of staff who’ll talk about their manager using their title and surname.
Smoking in the office
Can you imagine what it was like to work in an office where everyone was allowed to just light up a cigarette whenever they felt the need? I have been in a formal meeting in the past couple of years (actually I was pregnant with Noah) when someone asked if they could use an e-cigarette. Before you ask, no they weren’t allowed, and yes, they did look put out and surprised.