Changes in office behaviour over time

I was recently asked to get involved with the #BoardroomEtiquette campaign being run by workplace furniture experts Calibre Office Furniture. They want to discuss the changes in office behaviour over time. Where I work has certainly changed since the building was erected, in the 1960s, and as many of those with long service awards are approaching retirement, now’s a good time to tell some of the funny tales I’ve heard.

Some of the people I work with have been in the same company for 30 years or more. I used to work with some people who had been in the office block since it was built. Longevity of service certainly brings some tall tales, that really make my eyes stretch as I hear them. Here are a few of my favourite old school practices, that have long since disappeared:

Sherry time

There used to be a tea trolley, that visited all the floors of the building so that workers didn’t have to stop whatever they were doing for too long, in order to grab a sandwich or scone. So far, so normal office behaviour, and not too out-moded, you might think. Well, yes, except that the tea trolley’s presence signaled that it was “sherry o’clock” and they’d pour themselves a wee schooner to sip at while they worked.

Has boardroom etiquette altered over time? Is office behaviour different now to 10 or 20 years ago?

Mr & Mrs

People used to refer to each other as “Miss Philpot” and “Mr Shaw” (or whatever their surname really is) rather than their first name.┬áSome of the correspondence I read now, particularly if it’s been written by someone with long service, has the occasional slip into a previous way of working. It’s rather quaint office behaviour, and I do occasionally come across members of staff who’ll talk about their manager using their title and surname.

How has office behaviour changed over time in your workplace?

Smoking in the office

Can you imagine what it was like to work in an office where everyone was allowed to just light up a cigarette whenever they felt the need? I have been in a formal meeting in the past couple of years (actually I was pregnant with Noah) when someone asked if they could use an e-cigarette. Before you ask, no they weren’t allowed, and yes, they did look put out and surprised.

What changes have you seen or heard about boardroom etiquette in your workplace?



  1. August 8, 2016 / 6:37 am

    I’m so glad people aren’t allowed to smoke in offices now as its bad enough just smelling the fresh smoke on people as they pass!

    A lot of my colleagues have been there for nearly 20 years. I haven’t heard many etiquette stories but it seems that things are monitored a lot more closely these days and we’re timed for things that they were never once timed at. Things were probably lot more laid back then I’d imagine!

    Ami x

    • August 9, 2016 / 12:37 pm

      Yes, probably, although I guess things were slower anyway due to typing on typewriters or word processors before PCs became the norm.
      Smoke is the worst! x

  2. August 8, 2016 / 11:48 am

    So funny. I could go for Sherry o clock again mind!

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