Evolution of Office Desks and Items Placed On Them

Over the past few years, it is not only the amount of work that has changed but the workspaces have undergone changes too. The early 1900s was a time of Frederick Taylor’s “scientific management”. During this time, offices looked like production lines, where employees were evenly spaced along rows of desks in an open room. The owners and managers had separate offices to establish authority. This office layout led to an organized workplace but lacked privacy. In the 1950s, the Schnell brothers from Germany created a new concept, called the Bürolandschaft, which means “office landscape”. This concept was intended to get rid of hierarchies and enhance communication; desks were grouped together with large screens to offer privacy (Robinson C., 2016).

Since the office design has changed drastically changed, the furniture used has evolved too. Consider the desk used in an office today. It does not look anything like the ones that were used in the 1900s, with a rotary dial phone, a typewriter, calculator, etc. Along with the things placed on desks, their functionality has evolved too. The following points explain briefly the past and present of office desks:

1960s- 2000

The 1960s saw mainly open plan offices. A desk during this time came with one or two drawers underneath, and was topped with a typewriter, telephone, calculator, Rolodex and a cigarette dispenser. The functionality and design of the desk did not change much in the ‘cubicle farm’ of the 1980s. The typewriter was replaced with a personal computer, a rotary dial phone with a cordless phone, and a fax machine was used. Table lamps and potted plants were commonly seen on desks during the 80s. Virtual offices were introduced in the 90s. More technological development was seen during this time. Telephones were substituted with mobile phones, desks came with ports for wires, monthly planners were added to walls. Post-its and floppy disks were common during this period.


The early 2000s was an era of casual offices, with workspaces that allowed both privacy and open communication. Floppy disks, wall planners, telephones, calculators, etc. were no more seen on a desk. By 2010 employers had started realizing the ill effects of sitting at a desk for a long period of time. Hence, standing desks were introduced. However, as standing the entire day also affected employees’ wellbeing, height-adjustable desks were introduced and are popular today. Thanks to these desks, employees can easily switch positions while working and minimize any discomfort (Smith H., 2016). Along with the desk providing employees with comfort, desks also had items that could help employees relax. For example, noise-canceling headphones were provided so that staff would not be disturbed while working (Rundle m., 2016).

There are retailers on the market who provide executive office desks and desks that are height-adjustable. AJ Products is one company that provides office desks in Ireland. More information about their products can be found on their website.






















































































































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