How We Used To Work

To many of us, the 1990s doesn’t seem like it was all that long ago.  It’s easy to feel as though things haven’t changed that much over the last 20 years or so.  The Internet still existed, and so did personal computers and mobile phones.  If you were a teenager or an adult during the 90s, you might feel jaded about the progress of technology – after all, Tomorrow’s World promised us that by now we would be travelling in flying cars.  High speed broadband and fixed mobile convergence isn’t exactly glamorous by comparison.

We’ve Come Further than You Think

However, if you were to travel back in time to the 90s, you’d quickly start to appreciate what we have today.  The offices of the 1990s were rather different to the offices of today.  Computers played a prominent part, but they were slow and clunky.  Old CRT monitors were small, and had poor refresh rates.  Old keyboards weren’t exactly nice to use either.  Screen related headaches, posture problems, and carpal tunnel syndrome were common, because ergonomics wasn’t something that hardware makers were really thinking about.

The Internet did exist, but even if you had a leased line, it was slow and difficult to use.  Back then, search engines were just being developed, and people used gophers and web directories instead.  Many companies weren’t even networked internally, which is where the term “sneaker net” comes from.  If you wanted to trade files with a colleague, you wouldn’t send them over the network, you’d put them on a floppy disk (USB sticks didn’t exist either), and walk over to hand that floppy to your colleague.

This primitive way of transferring documents made collaboration a nightmare.  Today, fixed mobile convergence means that you can be reached anywhere, on any device, and take care of urgent business whether you’re in the office, visiting a client, or stuck in an airport.  Back in the 90s, if you weren’t within walking distance of your colleague’s desk, you’d have to come up with some pretty creative ways to get hold of those documents, and don’t even think about trying to use some form of version control system – those things were for techies only!

Even plain old telephony has improved in recent years.  We have more providers to choose from, much better quality long distance calls, and features such as SIP trunking to enable us to get more out of our leased lines.  Communication is faster, cheaper, and better.

Switching Off

If there’s one thing to miss about the 1990s, it’s the ability to switch off.  High powered executives may have had mobile phones (the size of bricks) in the early 90s, but the rest of the world didn’t start using them until the late 90s.  This meant that when you left the office for the day, you stopped working.  Now, that isn’t possible.  Everyone is expected to be connected 24/7/365, and that isn’t doing much good for the concept of work life balance.  It would be nice to be able to unplug once in a while.

This article was written by Crispin Jones on behalf of Maintel, suppliers of leased line and fixed mobile convergence services. For more information on leased line or fixed mobile convergence be sure to go to their site.

Photo: Ian Lamont

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