25 Opinions On How Working Culture Has Changed Throughout The Years
When we think of corporate offices back in the day, we imagine bored people pushing papers around while twiddling pens with not a computer in sight.
Indeed, times were different back then but in what ways? One Redditor got curious and posted online asking folks “Who are 50+ years old, what has changed the most about working when you started working vs working nowadays?” Many older folks responded with various observations which you can check out in the gallery below.
#1 I’ve been working in healthcare for 33+ years. At the beginning (late 80s/early 90s), everything was patient centered. Now it’s payment centered.
#2 People smoking indoors. Clouds of smoke everywhere in the office and no way for a nonsmoker to avoid it. That was the norm so you just had to suck it up.
That you chose a career, and you worked for an employee – and they valued your experience. You rose in the ranks of your profession, you became a valued team member, and you stayed until you retired. Changing jobs often is frowned on, if you make a job commitment – you follow through on it. People get bothered and quit/move/change really quickly now. That’s not necessarily bad, but it has created a gap in expertise – everyone is new all the time, and there isn’t any value in having experience. If you happen to be an elder in your field with some level of legacy knowledge -it doesn’t seem to matter because your boss is likely younger than you, and less experienced. There used to be jobs – what you did to get paid and live, and careers – what you did because you wanted to invest time into being good at something AND that was how you made a living. Moreover – you went to school to be in a career. So you put time and energy into attaining your job, therefore you’d want to stay in it and grow. In theory.
I’m not sure anyone cares about being in a career anymore. Because we all feel so betrayed by the system – wages not keeping up with COL, inflation, (and inflation subsiding and prices staying high because its what the market will bear) – when everyone is replaceable, then no one is an expert. I’m GenX. I work in healthcare. I work in a broken system that no one actually wants to fix. Those of us working in this system are now just grist for the mill. It’s too bad because we spent a lot of time and money to go to school to be able to work in our chosen field.
In contrast – my mom was also a nurse. She had a career. She worked in it until she was 70 and retired. She worked with a team that mostly stayed the same, over decades. I don’t work with anyone I started with at my job 6 years ago.
Image source: bunnehfeet
#4 Sending a memo meant typing something, sometimes on an actual typewriter. Physically passing said document to the people in the “to” line. They would sign their initials signifying they read it. Then pass on to the next. I remember people used to smoke cigarettes in their office.
#5 My first health insurance was Blue Cross, top level. Cost me nothing monthly and I had $5 copays.
#6 The people at the top earned a great salary and everyone else a good salary. Now the people at the top subscribe to the pirate life, take everything, give nothing back.
#7 Doctor. Less likely to be literally worked to death due to so called “safe hour” rules where 23 and 26 hour shifts without sleep are now banned. Officially anyway. Also the newer residents are pushing back against unpaid overtime and taking hospital management to court and winning for unpaid wages.
#8 Having to go to the bank to cash my paycheck
#9 In the 1980s, people getting s**t-faced drunk at lunch was a regular occurrence. I’ve only seen it twice in the last 5 years. Flexible time and WFH didn’t exist.
#10 People used to answer their business phones.
#11 I watched office work go from sedentary to virtually immobile. We used to retrieve paper files, pass memos around, consult with coworkers in other sections and floors. Now everything is available on the screen in front of us, everything can be shared with a few clicks. It’s convenient, but so unhealthy.
For myself, it was a culture of fear. Sexist bosses who would harass female employees constantly. They didn’t have to be male either. I had a female boss that would measure your skirt length by having you kneel on the floor, and would measure your hem with a ruler. More than two inches? Clock out, go home and change and then come back. Rinse and repeat. Many male managers took pride in being able to make women cry. There was public embarrassment if you made a mistake. Feeling like your job was in jeopardy at all times.
Surprisingly, I don’t miss it.
I’m 42 but feel like I want to chime in.
Health and safety has changed loads. You wouldn’t get away with half the s**t we did when I was 17
Image source: section4
#14 Maternity and paternity leave are new (US). When I started working it was still common to fire women who were expecting. Or require them to take very little leave. Women used to brag about taking only a few days off. Today the young men where I work get months off as paternity leave when their spouses have a baby.
I was fired from my first office job out of college (as a secretary for a job recruiting shop) for suggesting the business would fail if the owner didn’t give us Internet connectivity. Today the very idea of not having the Internet at an office job is ludicrous.
My third office job was working for one of the big accounting firms– and I spent an inordinate amount of time at work building my little home on the web at Geocities. No one in IT was paying any attention to what people were doing on their computers because it was relatively new. Today it wouldn’t take long for IT to discover that misuse.
I work 100% remotely right now– that would have been impossible even four years ago: when i started at this job, the head of my company was on-record saying that she believed working from home would lead to loafing and a tank in productivity. I’m still an exception at 100% WFH, but nearly every employee works a hybrid schedule now… with an increase in productivity.
This is going back a bit further– like to my first job at the age of 16–I was fired for refusing to sleep with the boss… and there were witnesses. At the time sexual harassment hadn’t been deemed federally hostile. If he’d pulled that c**p today, I would have owned his business by the time my court case was done.
Image source: TimmyIV
#16 In the early 90’s I could get by on minimum wage full time. Now it would not be possible
#17 Skirts/dresses and pantyhose required of women in many offices through 1990’s.
Customer service: how rude patrons have become
Image source: MRSRN65
Working for a company for many years was seen as honorable and a sign you were a good worker. Now it’s viewed as someone complacent, scared of change and stupid for not salary hopping. I don’t disagree though I’ve been at my company for a long time and it’s anything but complacent and always changing.
Image source: MysteryMeat11
58 YO engineer. When I started we shared computers at work. They were expensive and lots of things were still done by hand. I did not have a computer in college. We also did not have cell phones, texts, e-mail, video conference, internet, etc…. It was nearly impossible to collaborate with people in other offices . Blue prints were sent out for printing and we had flat drawers full of archived prints. We would have to hand sign/seal every page. Now we can collaborate between offices and every thing is an electronic file. It is amazing to me.
Image source: Caspers_Shadow
I used to get 20 vacation days and 10/12 sick days. Now I get 20 PTO days. So, that’s a one-third reduction in benefits.
I always purchase the best health insurance my employer offers, now the best is garbage. Twenty years ago, I was hospitalized, tons of tests and specialists, private room, final bill: $0. My kid was born five weeks premature, spent four weeks in NICU, final bill: $0. Now, if I go to the doctor, every single thing costs extra.
All the benefits have been dramatically reduced, but profits skyrocket.