What was the norm when you started work

(433 Posts)
harknesswitch Tue 11-May-21 19:23:06

Inspired by another thread, what things were the norm when you started work that would now be unbelievable.

When my Mum told her employer she was pregnant, in 1972, they sacked her

When I started work you could smoke at your desk and we were even given branded ashtrays

No email, everything was printed out by a work processor and filled in by hand. We had one of those personalised ink stamps to use which we signed so they knew who had filled in the form

OP’s posts: |
PaperMonster Tue 11-May-21 19:29:14

Smoking in the office.
Electric typewriter for typing letters (although I did most of my work on a DOS based laptop)
Rampant sexism
You could do your job, do it well and there be no stress or pressure (despite working to deadlines)
Retired men made cups of tea and coffee for you during the day and did a breakfast order
No bloody appraisals

MadelaineMaxwell Tue 11-May-21 19:31:10

I used to write out all letters and bills by hand and photocopy them.

36degrees Tue 11-May-21 19:31:45

People chatted and actually made friends at work. The last role I had in an office 3ish years ago no-one spoke at all unless they were answering the phone. Open plan and around 30 people.

awesomekillick Tue 11-May-21 19:31:49

Perfectly usual to have a couple of pints or wines at lunchtime.

Secretaries. All women. All unmarried.


NewlyGranny Tue 11-May-21 19:31:54

Couldn't come to work with bare legs, it had to be pantyhose (tights).
Had to wear a dress, or if in trousers, the top had to be jacket or tunic style, long enough to cover the crotch area. Married women with city/urban postings due to husbands' work or study were not eligible for promotion. When husband qualified in the same field, we were "rationed" to one job and had to decide whether it was his or mine, effectively expecting me to resign so he could have a job. Newsflash: I didn't!

TranquilityofSolitude Tue 11-May-21 19:33:55

I started work in the City in the early 90s. We had to wear a suit for work but we weren't allowed to wear trousers, which was very annoying because trouser suits were in fashion and half of the jackets in the shops only had trousers to go with them, not skirts.

The woman who sat next to me chain-smoked, lighting one cigarette from the end of the previous one all day. It was horrendous!


Twickerhun Tue 11-May-21 19:34:18

We had to use a modem to connect to the server for emails. Did it once a day and the beep, beep, BEEEEP <crash noise> was a daily sound track.

Jeffjefftyjeff Tue 11-May-21 19:35:10

In the early days of email we had to print important emails and stamp them/ sign them to prove authenticity, then add to hard copy files grin.

We had our own, large, permanent desks with random paraphernalia like photos etc on. Now all hot desking on small empty desks.

FrozenCucumberPresse Tue 11-May-21 19:35:13

In 2004, you could happily sit and have a cig at the counter! Music shop.

Y0YO Tue 11-May-21 19:36:11

Sexual harassment

PaperMonster Tue 11-May-21 19:36:58

Oh yes, Friday lunchtimes at the pub!

SmednotaSmoo Tue 11-May-21 19:37:53

We had our own printers on our desks, and two bins each (one generic, one recycling). Now my entire floor of ?70 people has access to one printer and two bins.

EggysMom Tue 11-May-21 19:38:04

Friday lunch was at the nearest pub, alcohol was normal, and then you went back to work for the afternoon.

Ashtrays / smoking at the desk.

RedRec Tue 11-May-21 19:40:23

Records kept on microfiche.
Drinking at lunchtime.
Smoking in the office.
Free lunches in the staff restaurant.

MeridasMum Tue 11-May-21 19:41:08

I started work in a bank in 1987.

Women were called girls, no matter their age; women couldn't wear trousers; we had to call the manager Mr _ (there were no women managers); we'd often go for 2 or 3 alcoholic drinks at lunchtime; smoked at our desks; we had no computers, we'd get account transactions and balances on microfiche every morning, and there were 2 'terminals' to input debits and credits at the end of each day.

Mr_ would pat us on the bottoms as we walked away after a conversation (most of the managers would do this; not all). Us 'girls' were careful not to close a managers door behind us when we walked into their offices!

user143677433 Tue 11-May-21 19:41:58

Mid 90s - typing pool, secretaries, paper files, modems, “terminals” rather than PCs, people smoking in the break room, an HR department of 20 people for an organisation that only employed 500, in comparison to the 1 “database administrator” (IT guy).

wingsofsteel Tue 11-May-21 19:42:05

Mid 90s- professional office based job. Women were not permitted to wear trouser suits. A few years after I joined the rule was relaxed but if a female member of staff was visiting a client and wanted to wear trousers we were expected to call first and check it was acceptable for their dress code. Office was mainly open-plan but all managers (of all levels) had an office (more junior managers shared occasionally). Managers were allowed to smoke in their offices. I visited lots of clients' offices and it was common for larger office buildings to have a 'smoking room'.

Fixitup2 Tue 11-May-21 19:42:51

Cheque guarantee cards. I worked in a shop.

mscynical Tue 11-May-21 19:42:54

Yes, smoking was done by most and those that didn't never moaned - unbelievable to think of today.
Carbon copies.
Gestetner machines for when you had to do loads of copies of something.
Agree with @PaperMonster with no appraisals or regular 1-2-1's.
But the best thing was there were hardly any (if any) meetings. People knew what to do, the higher ups decided stuff (on their own dependent on their title) and there was no timewasting and waffling which seems to take up most of the day today.
You could go out to the pub at lunchtime and I even used to visit a lunchtime disco in KIngley Street, Soho where a mate was paid to dance on a rock in a lit up small pond for the hour she had for lunch!
Lots and lots of laughs although I worked in creative companies so maybe I was lucky.

user143677433 Tue 11-May-21 19:44:08

Interdepartmental memos delivered every morning on printed paper into an actual physical in-tray

Fudgeytastic Tue 11-May-21 19:44:16

Dot matrix printer paper.

Handwriting cheque upon cheque to suppliers.

Experiencing blatant sexual harassment from a senior with his two deputies laughing along. Every single day.

Strict dress code of skirt or dress for women in the office, definitely no trousers permitted.

This was late 90's!!!

btchymcbtchfce Tue 11-May-21 19:44:35

We'd go to the pub for lunch (NHS)

Northernsoullover Tue 11-May-21 19:45:21

I'd handwrite a letter then take it to the typing pool where the typists would work their magic. Smoking in the office was obligatory. We also had a canteen which you could get a full fry up in. Works canteens are dying out. I miss them sad

Cookerhood Tue 11-May-21 19:45:39

Smoking at desks, writing out letters longhand to be typed up. Tea trolley coming round morning & afternoon. Friday lunchtimes at the pub. Raucous Christmas parties in the office on Christmas Eve. Happy days.

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