The world has changed like crazy in the past couple of decades and Gen Xers are here to tell us exactly how.
Gen X is more or less the only generation who's properly seen just how our workspaces and cultures have evolved. Not only have they witnessed the beginning, but also whether or not things have changed for the better. From typewriters becoming computers to formal attire getting changed to casual wear - there's a lot this generation has witnessed. When u/LightningStrikes818 posted a question on Reddit, people answered it with utmost honesty. The question read, "Redditors, who are 50+ years old, what has changed the most about working when you started working vs working nowadays?" So, here we have 10 interesting things that according to Gen Xers, have changed in the workplace in the last few decades.
I am just barely old enough to have taken a typing class in high school. Except it was "keyboarding" then. Still useful, but very different from mechanically actuating a real typewriter. The jump from mass printing form letters and having dozens of people fill them in with typewriters to one click in mail merge is so nuts. It's like the printing press replacing hand copy, in the sheer scale of human hours replaced. I do a lot of Excel in my current job and find myself wondering how accountants ever did it before. u/Automatic_Resort155
The effects of AI in the workplace are going to be ruthless so, it still amazes me that governments in developed countries (and probably others) still allow young people to drop out of school without any qualifications or skills. I don't know whether this revolution in the workplace is happening too fast for governments to keep up or whether they are just thinking, "Well, what the hell are we supposed to do?" Either way, there are some horrible un/employment problems ahead...with the resulting social problems. u/Holiday_Newspaper_29
Direct deposit. No more waiting in line Friday afternoon or most of Saturday morning at the bank to cash your paycheck with everyone else. u/snowswamp In the 80s, direct deposit was something only the largest companies were able to do. I remember working for a small (under 30 people) company in the 90s that had cash flow problems. Only the first 2-3 people getting to the bank (that the checks were written on) were able to cash them. All the checks cleared, but it needed the entire float time. u/Tangurena
Hardly anybody has a pension anymore. u/whitewolfdogwalker In Australia, it all comes down to whether you own your own house or not and in fact, super kind of assumes you have a house by about your mid-50s so you can top up your super for a few years. This seems to be becoming a thing of the past for many people due to the house prices. If you're trying to retire while renting... that's probably gonna be a grim existence. u/ThroughTheHoops
I'm in the UK. It was a great deal easier to find work. You'd get vacancies posted in various places and could go down to the job centre, browse vacancies posted on postcards on boards, pick out the jobs you were interested in, and get a member of staff to arrange an interview for you. Just like that. Dress codes were more formal and you had to go to work. If you worked in an office for the right company work finished Friday lunchtime when you'd go with your colleagues to the pub. You'd go back after the 'liquid' lunch hour and work Friday afternoon, but no shit got done and work piled up for Monday. You got paid either direct debit, cash or if you were unlucky by cheque. If you got paid cash you'd get it in a small brown envelope known as a wage packet which listed all deductions on the outside. It still felt good to tear open the wage packet and take out the cash. u/ElvishMystical
For me, 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 who would measure your skirt length by having you kneel on the floor and 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. u/WindyWood4
There was a lot more understanding back in the 80s and 90s that each employee had a life outside of work, and work would end at 5 PM. You could leave work and go do something that you like, maybe a martial arts class or some learning workshop somewhere. There were no phone calls. Text messages and emails hadn't happened yet. Pagers were rare. People were in better shape. They had time to work out and were encouraged by their bosses to go do something to keep in shape. These days, it's the opposite. There's no encouragement from your boss or your coworkers other than to just work around the clock. You're given impossible deadlines. It now takes incredible willpower to break free and "sneak" away to go work out. You're exhausted all the time, so you lose the desire to work out. You just want to sleep. Instead of meeting up with friends somewhere for dinner, you are happy to just get home, get something hot to eat from your microwave, and numb yourself by watching YouTube and Reddit. u/mhv64tsj
Paper. Lots of paper. Before email, there were people (secretaries or admins) who would take a memo someone printed out on their computer, make physical copies and either walk around to every executive’s desk or put it into inter-office mail. This memo could be to a few people, one person, or for a general announcement needed to go to everyone. For expediency, these memos would also be posted in public areas (lunchroom, messaging board) if it was a general notice. These memos were often routed from the head manager throughout the department if it was more for general information. Oh, and each department admin had their routing slip (a small piece of paper with each person in the department’s name) that was stapled to the announcement. When you got the memo, you read it, crossed your name off and gave it to the next person on the list. That’s where “they must not have gotten the memo” comes from. u/UncleGizmo
I was fired from my first office job out of college 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. 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 crap today, I would have owned his business by the time my court case was done. u/TimmyIV
Things run so much leaner now as the excess is gone. When I started, it seemed everyone at the VP level and up had an EA. Eating lunch at your desk was weird. You always went out, always had a beer and it was almost always paid for with an exec’s company card. It could get kind of nuts. Bonuses were almost considered mandatory. I remember a holiday party at the company owner’s mansion - about 150 hammered employees and their equally hammered spouses. The evening culminated in him standing on a balcony throwing envelopes of cash to everyone below like some anemic Caligula. We weren’t tracked, Teams and Slack were a decade away and we were on the most basic desktops with an internet that was still an incredibly weird and alluring distraction. You could lose a day online and just lie on your timesheet or not do your timesheet at all (time tracking was done to adjust employee ratios internally and not to get paid by our clients). Not sad to see those days gone, but glad I got to experience the old school for a few years. u/ViciousSemicircle