I remember typing pools...

Steve Bridger

| 0 Posts

Community Manager

1 Feb, 2012 14:39

I remember my first day at work. The summer of 1981. County Hall. The smell of polished corridors and trolleys laden three-feet high with leaver arch files and buff folders. I opened a door and there it was: The Typing Pool. Page 3 of The Sun were always plastered on the walls of the printing unit whenever I was asked to make errands. We still had a few discussion threads on that topic in the early days here - in 2004!

And I've seen Made in Dagenham, the movie!

I only mention this as the CIPD published a report called Work Audit today, a fascinating look at how the world of work has changed
in Britain since 1952.

I thought we could share our own compelling vignettes of social history comparing changes in the way we work.

What do you reckon?


  • Johanna

    | 0 Posts

    Community Manager

    1 Feb, 2012 14:55

    Good subject thread Steve

    I'm showing my age here but I do remember pre-email when you typed out a memo, copied it several times (I think we had photocopiers!!) and had to run downstairs to reception and post each memo in a series of different people's 'pigeon holes'. These were basically individual wooden boxes for each employee, fixed in a grid on the wall. Then people would pop along from time to time and pick up their mail.

    Everyone took an hour's lunchbreak religiously and you had to go and knock on the boss' door and apologise if you were 5 minutes late in the morning. Working 'flexibly' was not the norm at all.

    At the time it was all perfectly normal and quite enjoyable really! Definitely slower paced than 2012...


  • Umm, my first day of work, even in a summer job was approx 11.5 years ago....


    I remember the days when t'internet wasn't available in every workplace to help me find thast prevaling piece of case law, or the cricket score, which ever was more pressing...

  • *Dan rues the lack of an edit function to repair his shoddy typing*
  • My first post-university job in the summer of 1993 was at the Royal London Hospital at Whitechapel on their secretarial bank. I spent the summer in the medical records department of outpatients and I was given my own workspace, mug and an ashtray. I was a smoker then, as was the majority of others, and we puffed away merrily in the outpatients' building. Seems an alien concept now when I look back.
  • Johanna

    | 0 Posts

    Community Manager

    1 Feb, 2012 15:19

    Oh yes Emma I remember several smoking offices when I started a job in 1997.

    We used to have meetings in one of the manager's offices who smoked and several other attendees would light up on arrival at the meeting - because they could in that particular office. There was no consideration - at all - for the non smokers assembled in the room! (I was one of these unfortunately!)

    That's got to be one of the biggest changes really...

  • I am in a similar camp to Dan (sorry!) but I can certainly recall being paid the princely sum of roughly £2 per hour for a Saturday job in my local pharmacy at the tender age of 14. Times really have changed, even in only 15 years!

  • I remember leaving university in the early 2000s (where I'd become used to the internet/e-mail driven age) to start my first graduate job, only to discover that all the monitor screens were green/black, you had to be a senior manager to get a computer mouse, and NO ONE had an e-mail account. Kind of a culture shock...

    It was 2007 before I got my first work e-mail account. It felt SOOO good!

  • Well my first day at work in 1982 was a Saturday job in a video shop; I was 14.  We rented both VHS and the wonderous quality of Betamax!  I remember being paid £14 for the 12 hour day, no proper lunch break and spent most of the day on my own whilst the "Manager" was recovering from his hangover.  It's a good job it wasn't rocket science.

    My first "proper" job though, was as a Secretary in the Service Department of a Car Dealership.  I was 20 and considerably slimmer in those days.  I'm sure you can imagine the number of times I was asked to deliver something to the Parts or Bodyshop Managers, whose offices entailed a no holds barred walk through an aircraft hangar like service bay, lined by large numbers of "grease monkeys" and Page 3 posters (and far, far worse).  Oh yes, this Convent educated girl certainly had her eyes opened, her knowledge of the female anatomy maxed out and a crash course in "perception" of what is and isn't harrassment!

     Those were the days........................ ;-)

  • I remember...

    - being very suspicious of the reliability of email 13 years ago

    - asking 'What's an intranet?' 15 years ago

    - using walkie-talkies to talk to people around the building when I worked with Madame Tussauds 20 years ago

    -  having to open windows in the staffroom to clear the smell of smoke after every breaktime 21 years ago

    - cleaning Chinagraph pencil off a display book we used to record orders before we phoned them into the warehouse for a branch of Sock Shop 22 years ago

    - panicking at being stuck in traffic on a 137 bus and not being abe to let my manager know I was running late 23 years ago

    -being paid £12 for 16 hours' work over a weekend in the local florist shop 26 years ago!

  • work pre-internet - how did we ever find things out? 

    In my first job we had a programme for letter writing which did not save and did not spell check!!  and this was in 1997!

    I also remember the smoking room at one place I worked - the smell leaked out as you walked past it!! 


  • Summer of 1981, I wasn't even born ;)

  • Anonymous

    Anonymous | 358 Posts

    1 Feb, 2012 16:17

    Two things stick in my mind:

    Letting the carriage of the typewriter knock my cup of coffee into a stack of newly-typed letters


    a colleague being sent home to change having turned up in a divided skirt.

  • I forgot to mention the clatter of the telex machine which fought the dot matrix printer for airspace.  Fingers covered in ink from the carbon paper and later, the smell of thermal fax paper.

    Then there was my first electric and subsequently electronic typewriter, which was way before I even saw a computer let alone used one!

    Car phones like bricks (only the MD) and eventually one email address for the whole company.


  • Proper typewriters, with carbon copies and that funny tippex paper.  I distinctly remember the ting of my typewriter and hitting the lever at the side to make it go down the page.  I tried to explain this concept recently to some 20 somethings in my team who all thought I was mad.

  • Steve Bridger

    | 0 Posts

    Community Manager

    1 Feb, 2012 17:02

    @Nicola. Thanks. You are off my Christmas card list ;)