Powering Change In The Workplace | Workplace behaviours, attitudes and technology over the decades

Workplace behaviours, attitudes and technology over the decades

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Posted 05 March 2018 16:43:22 GMT | By UK Team

The workplace environment has dramatically evolved over the decades.

Technology has become an intricate part of our daily lives, and women now hold more prominent leadership positions. The gender balance has improved, the glass ceiling is slowly disappearing, mental health has a stronger voice, diversity and inclusion policies are at the forefront of businesses agendas and workplaces are agile and flexible to accommodate all employees. Charlotte Bradley,  UK Account Manager for Condeco, she completed her studies at university, where she gained a degree in computer sciences, she quite often found herself being the only women in lectures. She sat down with us to discuss the changing face of the working environment and how it has improved not just for women, but for everyone over the decades. 

The 1950’s

“In the 1950's, 1.5 million women in Britain worked as either secretaries or typists.” ~ Telegraph

In the 1950’s women were not typically given any opportunities for technical positions within the workplace. If they weren’t at home being a housewife, they were mainly hired in secretarial positions, which were usually reserved for unmarried women. Research from the 1950’s shows the workforce worked longer hours and took less holidays, yet stress in 2018 has reached higher levels (48 per cent of people say their stress has increased over the past five years).

Charlotte discusses if modern day technology plays a part in this?

As a workforce, we have so many more paths of communication, from Email, Skype, mobile devices and social media messaging. Email has reached higher proportions than ever, with over 100 billion emails sent and received per day. Having technology at our finger tips is fantastic, but we do need to ensure we switch off and take mini digital break. Taking that time to increase your personal development or in a work capacity create action plans.

“Technological advancement would give the working man what he's never had – four days' work then three days' fun” ~ Winston Churchill (source)

The 1960’s

The majority of immigrants arrived in Britain during the 50’s and 60’s, as the British government encouraged people to “Help rebuild Britain”. Racism was common place, and this was a difficult time for many minority groups. Smoking within the office environment was the norm, as well employers asking women to leave their jobs when they married. This was the decade parliament passed new laws giving women the right to equal pay and made it illegal to discriminate against women because of their gender.

Charlotte discusses the positive impact she feels diversity and gender balance has had in the workplace in 2018.

I’m lucky to be able to work with a hugely diverse group of individuals. People from different ethnic minorities, backgrounds, religions, and cultures. Gender balance is important and having a diverse workforce makes us more creative and more in tune with our customers, giving us the ability to problem solve, drawing on all the talent within the team. Having a big melting pot of individuals brings balance and helps us to bridge the path between departments, teams, suppliers and customers. It also develops our own personal skill sets and makes us a stronger and more productive team.

Racially diverse teams outperform non-diverse ones by 35 per cent.

Teams where men and women are equal produce 41 per cent more revenue

The 1970’s

In 1971, the number of women in work reached 57 per cent, there was a steady rise in employment. (source)

In 1975, Business Week published an article by George E Pake, Head of Research, Xerox. He predicted:

"A revolution, over the next 20 years, involving a television display terminal sitting on his desk. I'll be able to call up documents from my files on the screen, or by pressing a button. I can get my mail or any messages. I don't know how much hard copy I'll want in this world. It will change our daily life, and this could be kind of scary."

Charlotte discusses the use of design and the emphasis on the end user.

It’s essential for the end product to be designed with the end user in mind. The user experience should always be at the forefront of our minds, creating a journey which provides meaningful and relevant experiences, the product should be able to help, guide and assist, the end user will always evoke their feelings and emotions when using the product.

Gartner predicts that, “by 2018, more than 50% of organisations will redirect their investments to customer experience innovations.”

The 1980’s

The mobile phone entered the mainstream market (launched in 1985) and has revolutionised the use of technology in the workplace. These ground-breaking products, have paved the way for a revolution in the use of technology in the office.

Charlotte discusses the impact of mobile technology in the workplace.

The mobile phone has been an amazing asset to the workplace, allowing you to keep up to date within your working environment, with more advanced computing capabilities than ever before. However, we are now spending two hours online on our smartphones every day; twice as long as laptops and PCs and in the workplace the mobile phone can also been a huge distraction if you don’t manage your time effectively.

By 2018, over a third of the world’s population is projected to own a smartphone, an estimated total of almost 2.53 billion smartphone users in the world.

The 1990’s

Beige became the ‘go to’ colour for workplace design, with high cubicles and large desktop computers, printers and fax machines. We began hearing about the hip new start-up known as ‘Google’.

Charlotte discusses the impact of workplace design and how this can affect your workforce.

The design and layout of the office has a huge effect in your workforce’s productivity, even simply adding colour in the workplace has an affect, according to British Colour psychologist Dr David Lewis, 80 per cent of UK office workers believe colour can affect their mood. Employees who have control over the design and layout of their workspace are not only happier and healthier - they’re also up to 32 per cent more productive. (Research by Exeter University’s School of Psychology)

I enjoy artwork and find it inspiring to have in the workplace, especially when it’s from local artists. A survey in collaboration with Business Committee for the Arts and the International Association for Professional Art Advisors found that,

“art in the workplace helps businesses address key challenges such as reducing stress (78 per cent agreed), increasing creativity (64 per cent agreed) and encouraging expression of opinions (77 per cent agreed).”

Employees who have control over the design and layout of their workspace are not only happier and healthier - they’re also up to 32 per cent more productive, this, according to research by Exeter University’s School of Psychology

The 2000’s

This was a decade of growth for technology and new ways of working, as the 2000’s began setting the scene for agile, flexible and activity-based working. As more and more employees had laptops and mobile phones, working remotely became much more feasible.

Charlotte discusses the impact of remote working policies on the workforce and how this has had an impact on behaviours.

Creating an environment where your workforce has the ability to use flexible and agile working, can help improve your work/life balance. Did you know the average person spends 90,000 hours of their lifetime in work, creating a flexible and agile environment can increase productivity and wellbeing within your workforce, flexible working can also reduce the amount of time your workforce spends commuting.

“UK employees spend an average of 57.1 minutes a day getting to and from work, with some journeys taking considerably longer.”

2010 and beyond

“Technology-related productivity in the workplace has led to an overall increase of 84 per cent in productivity per hour for office workers since the 1970s.” ~ (source)

We have made huge strides in our working environments, there are still issues which need to be resolved, such as the gender pay gap, but we have seen America’s first black president, New Zealand’s sitting female prime minister (Jacinta Adhern) is pregnant, and agile and flexible working spaces are now commonplace.

Charlotte talks us through what she hopes the future of the workplace will look like.

The future is exciting, and we will see more advanced technology impact our lives in a positive way, with Artificial intelligence in the workplace becoming personalised. Individuals will be able to choose the amount of personal data they share with their employer, which in turn will allow for each individual worker to have specifications for their own working environment, feature walls in meeting rooms, smart allocation of hot desking and augmented reality when using video integrated meetings. The workplace will become a more fun and engaging place to be, with fewer desks and more collaborating between team members.

Female pioneers of technology, such as Ada Lovelace, Grace Hopper and Carol Shaw have paved the way to create a more diverse and inclusive workforce, the future and world of technology is an exciting place to be.

*Special thank you to Charlotte Bradley, Condeco UK Account Manager for writing this article.

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