If you’re an historian charting the history of the office, it’s tricky to know where exactly to begin. Medieval monks copied and studied manuscripts in rooms designed specifically for that purpose. Could we call that an office? The Uffizi Gallery in Florence was originally the administrative HQ of the Medici’s mercantile empire, and would certainly seem to qualify for what we call an office.
But if we’re thinking about office in the modern sense, as a place we go to distinct from our own homes, and where we tend to work for an allotted period of time, it’s the Industrial Revolution, and the huge expansion in production and trade it brought with it, that tends to mark the office’s beginning.
In the early 18th century, the East India Company built one of the first purpose-built offices in London’s Leadenhall Street. It established the kind of workspace we might recognise, stocked full of clerks dealing with paperwork. But this basic structure, of people working as a cog in a much larger machine made up of tasks and responsibilities, is still with us today, contained in vertiginous towers of metal and glass that spread out across city skylines the world over.
Possibly the biggest change to office life was aided by the exponential advancement of technology (not least Wi-Fi now being prevalent, enabling agile working in breakout spaces or hotels). The arrival of the internet and the digitisation of the workplace has profoundly blurred the boundaries of what we perceive to be the office.
When your marketplace is global, your office needs to be global too. That doesn’t necessarily mean having HQs set up in London, Tokyo and New York, which obviously require a lot of capital.
Instead what we’re seeing is a lot more business travel than we did one and two generations ago, with companies making use of the kind of workspaces offered by the likes of hotels.
Modern hotels offer the perfect working environment as they seamlessly blend productivity and downtime for their customers. At Crowne Plaza® Hotels & Resorts the advantages are obvious; free WI-FI for guests, bespoke break out spaces, quiet zones and fully serviced conference rooms designed for gatherings as small as half a dozen or as large as 200, providing flexibility no matter what size the business.
With dedicated .