With working from home being a necessity of late, many miss being in the office surrounded by their colleagues, and who can blame them? Office spaces have become increasingly welcoming, and with open plan layouts and comfy seating, working in an office has never been so great. With that in mind, we thought we would collate a list of retro office essentials to remind you just how lucky you are to be working in a modern office! Take a trip down memory lane with us…

When the office party was held… in the office
First up on the list is when the office parties were always held in the office. There are many people today who have no idea it was common practice to have office parties actually in the office building. In fact, to them it probably seems utterly bizarre to have a party in the place where they work. With an increased importance having been placed on differentiating work from relaxation spaces, it’s no surprise that office parties have since moved to the outside world. Today most businesses hire out venues for such events, but the organisation required for this makes some reminisce about the simplicity of organising an office party taking place in the office.

Green screen computers the size of your desk
For some, the term ‘green screen’ will conjure images of CGI and amusing behind the scenes filming, but many of us think of our old green screen computers and shudder. Taking up almost the entirety of your desk, these computers had green characters displayed on a dark background and were enough to send anyone home with a headache at the end of the day. Again, times have changed, with an emphasis on looking after your eyes alongside the rapid growth of technology, these green screen computers are a thing of the past; although we can’t guarantee work will always be headache free.

Dancing sunflowers (the original desk toys)
These need no introduction, the original and iconic office desk toys: dancing sunflowers. Often sporting some cool looking shades, these chilled sunflowers bopped from left to right all day, encouraging you to get through the day, taking on the role of a mascot. If you saw your desk looking a little drab, these would be guaranteed to brighten your workspace up. These were popular in the days before desk plants and personalised items, and we will never know why these little guys ever stopped dancing on our desks. 

Massive mobile phones and no cordless desk phones
If you’re reading this article on your mobile phone, imagine it weighing the same as, and being about the size of, a brick, and not having half of the same capabilities and this is what you would have been dealing with back in the days of working in a retro office. If you think your current mobile phone may be a little too big, then you have clearly never had an old brick of a phone. In addition to this, being on the phone whilst sat at your desk meant you were staying sat at your desk. The corded telephones allowed for very limited mobility and minimal distance between yourself and the desk. Not to mention the cord’s ability to get tangled at the slightest nudge. I am sure we are all very grateful for the invention of lightweight handheld devices and hands free phones.

When the biggest feature on a chair was the fact it swiveled
Many of us remember the excitement of getting a new office chair, only to sit down and discover the fact that, it did indeed, swivel. Countless hours would be spent gently swaying left to right, imitating the dancing sunflowers on our desks. Office desk chairs have evolved over time. With the introduction of ergonomics and increased understanding of how to better your posture and reduce potential back problems, office desk chairs became more than just their ability to swivel. Office chairs these days offer a multiplicity of functions, all whilst looking incredibly stylish.

Paperwork ruled the roost – lever arch files
It’s hard to forget the nightmarish days in which we would, quite literally, feel as though we were drowning in paperwork. This in turn, made us incredibly grateful for the handy invention of lever arch files. Not only did they help to organise everything and prevent an accident at work – drowning via paperwork – but they were fun to customise too. Procrastination will never be the same as when we could claim we were organising our paperwork, when in reality we were making really neat and intricate labels for our lever arch files.

Fax machines
The younger generation will never know the pain of waiting in a line to use the fax machine, which was more often than not housed in a separate room from the rest of the office due to its enormous size. If you think copying documents is a pain now, just remember that fax machines would only copy one line at a time, and only in black and white. This resulted in having to make small talk at the fax machine while you were waiting on your documents, and you would just hope that it was someone who spoke about interesting things rather than what they had for breakfast that morning.

Carpets, everywhere. No matter which office you worked in, it was usually decorated with that same braided, type carpet in which crumbs would fall into with no hope of ever managing to pick them up again. If you were lucky enough to have an office chair with wheels, navigating these carpets was a treacherous feat, and often an unsuccessful one at that. Most modern offices have wooden or laminate flooring, which are easier to keep clean, it doesn’t age as quickly as carpet and it is much easier to stay upright when moving around in your desk chair. It also creates the impression of a bigger and more welcoming space, and is therefore a preferable space to work within. I can still see the horror of the office parties in which drinks were spilled on those old carpets.

Open plan? What’s that? 
In most offices nowadays you will most likely find an open-plan layout, and you would probably think the layout looks very modern, and you’d be right. It used to be common practice for offices to be filled with partitions, to give the illusion of privacy. In reality, it was a claustrophobe’s nightmare. With desk space already a novelty, partitions only added to the cramped feeling while working. Whilst the aim of partitions was to aid in privacy, in reality they made you feel distanced from your coworkers. Modern offices embrace open layouts, scrapping the partitions to encourage everyone to work as a team. Light and airy, open plan layouts are definitely the way forward.