ADVERTISEMENT

Sometimes, when watching an old show or a period piece, you get a glimpse of what offices were truly like in the past. Cigarette smoke, strict dress codes, and not a single computer in sight, for example. 

Someone wanted to hear from netizens “who are 50+ years old, what has changed the most about working when you started working vs working nowadays?” Older folks shared their best examples. So prepare for a blast from the past, get comfortable as you scroll through, be sure to upvote your favorite examples, and share your own if you have any. We also got in touch with LightningStrikes818 to learn more.

#1

“It Was A Culture Of Fear”: People Over 50 Reveal What Work Culture Used To Look Like I've been working in healthcare for 33+ years. At the beginning (late 80s/early 90s), everything was patient centered. Now it's payment centered.

millenniumxl-200 , Jonathan Borba Report

Bored Panda got in touch with LightningStrikes818 and they were kind enough to answer some of our questions. Firstly, we were curious to learn why they asked this particular question to the internet. 

“It's a topic that I have had on my mind for a bit. I feel like young and old generations are clashing on a lot of things in general right now, whether in the workplace, politics, general cultural and social values, etc. I'm a 28-year-old man. As much as I can complain about things in the modern workplace, I didn't experience what work was like for people who are 50+ years old who started their careers and first jobs in a very different world. I feel like old people love to say how much easier younger people have it now and only complain while young people love to say how much easier older people had it and only complain about us!”

#2

“It Was A Culture Of Fear”: People Over 50 Reveal What Work Culture Used To Look Like The people at the top earned a great salary and everyone else a good salary.

Now the people at the top subscribe to the pirate life, take everything, give nothing back.

TildaTinker , The Coach Space Report

Add photo comments
POST
eamebucozmffwciufv avatar
eame
Community Member
2 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Trickle down b******t. Don't believe them when they tell you tax cuts will benefit everyone. They only ever benefit the rich.

View More Replies...
View more commentsArrow down menu
ADVERTISEMENT
#3

“It Was A Culture Of Fear”: People Over 50 Reveal What Work Culture Used To Look Like In the early 90’s I could get by on minimum wage full time. Now it would not be possible

wanderain , Towfiqu barbhuiya Report

Add photo comments
POST
eamebucozmffwciufv avatar
eame
Community Member
2 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Yep. Had a very s****y apartment on my minimum wage job. Now there's no way. Blame corporations and government policy allowing it.

View More Replies...
View more commentsArrow down menu

“The truth is I wish both generations actually talked to each other and could have more honest conversations with each other about their experiences at work. I feel like more common ground could be found than people realized. I loved reading the comments on my thread. It was truly fascinating and my question truly struck a nerve with a lot of Redditors. I'm glad I was able to give people who have been working way longer than me a voice, to be honest about what they've been through at work and how things have changed over time, for better and/or for worse,” he shared with Bored Panda. 

#4

“It Was A Culture Of Fear”: People Over 50 Reveal What Work Culture Used To Look Like I watched office work go from sedentary to virtually immobile. We used to retrieve paper files, pass memos around, consult with coworkers in other sections and floors. Now everything is available on the screen in front of us, everything can be shared with a few clicks. It’s convenient, but so unhealthy.

MathematicianWitty23 , Wesley Tingey Report

Add photo comments
POST
feuerrabe avatar
VioletHunter
Community Member
2 months ago (edited) DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

It's not even convenient. It's much easier to flip through 100 printed pages in a binder than it is to look for it in a 100 page PDF. That is if you can even find that PDF in the company cloud mess.

View More Replies...
View more commentsArrow down menu
#5

“It Was A Culture Of Fear”: People Over 50 Reveal What Work Culture Used To Look Like Benefits.

I used to get 20 vacation days and 10/12 sick days. Now I get 20 PTO days. So, that’s a one-third reduction in benefits.

I always purchase the best health insurance my employer offers, now the best is garbage. Twenty years ago, I was hospitalized, tons of tests and specialists, private room, final bill: $0. My kid was born five weeks premature, spent four weeks in NICU, final bill: $0. Now, if I go to the doctor, every single thing costs extra.

All the benefits have been dramatically reduced, but profits skyrocket.

richardmac999 , Mina Rad Report

ADVERTISEMENT
#6

“It Was A Culture Of Fear”: People Over 50 Reveal What Work Culture Used To Look Like People smoking indoors. Clouds of smoke everywhere in the office and no way for a nonsmoker to avoid it. That was the norm so you just had to suck it up.

andBobsyourcat , Tobias Tullius Report

Add photo comments
POST
sonja_6 avatar
Sonja
Community Member
2 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

That was the ridiculousness of people arguing against non-smoking laws. The only way for people to avoid passive smoking was to completely avoid leaving the house and go anywhere. Smokers claim sometimes that banning smoking in public is forcing a health decision on them. But that's untrue. They still can smoke if they want. They just can't make others smoke anymore. So all that really happened is that they are now forbidden to make that decision for others. They can still participate on society, they are simply limited on smoking. I sometimes asked back if they think personal freedom should mean being allowed to have sex in public. And to please explain to me why it should be forbidden to do so, when it had no consequence for others and people could just look away, but imbibing other people's clothes with nicotine and forcing them to either stay home or breath smoke should be legal.

View More Replies...
View more commentsArrow down menu

Given the nature of the question, we wanted to know what he thought about more modern workplaces. “I appreciate that the younger generation is raising the cultural voice of mental health in the workplace and work/life balance. I was in a career for the first 5 1/2 years of my professional life that was absolutely brutal. My work/life balance was horrible, to say the least, and I grew extremely depressed and burned out for a while in my mid-20s because of it. I only got out of that rut by finding a new job that I really like now that values me as a HUMAN rather than a number on a spreadsheet or a number of hours on a schedule. It's demoralizing and exhausting.”

#7

“It Was A Culture Of Fear”: People Over 50 Reveal What Work Culture Used To Look Like Skirts/dresses and pantyhose required of women in many offices through 1990’s.

hhhmmm0 , Pavel Danilyuk Report

Add photo comments
POST
david2074 avatar
David
Community Member
2 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

It is sort of funny how people treat you based on dress. I sometimes wonder if it is still true. ME - mid 80s - selling insurance. For work I wore suit and tie. Off work me was typically jeans and a t-shirt or polo. At various times I shopped in the same stores dressed one way or the other. K-mart or whatever store. There was often a noticeable difference in the way staff treated me, how quickly someone offered to help me and so on. It made me chuckle inside because of course I was still the same person either way. Me now - retired and pretty much permanent jeans or shorts mode so I don't know if a lot of that still goes on.

View More Replies...
View more commentsArrow down menu
#8

“It Was A Culture Of Fear”: People Over 50 Reveal What Work Culture Used To Look Like Doctor. Less likely to be literally worked to death due to so called “safe hour” rules where 23 and 26 hour shifts without sleep are now banned. Officially anyway. Also the newer residents are pushing back against unpaid overtime and taking hospital management to court and winning for unpaid wages. 

feetofire , Cedric Fauntleroy Report

Add photo comments
POST
sk_1988 avatar
JJ
Community Member
2 months ago (edited) DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

German here. I don't understand why in hospitals (yes even around here) 8-hour-shifts are not the norm. Like, does anyone really want to have an exhausted doctor or nurse if they have an accident? (And yes, this is a question I would really like to ask any manager or politician who makes more-than-8-hour-shifts the norm.)

View More Replies...
View more commentsArrow down menu
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
#9

“It Was A Culture Of Fear”: People Over 50 Reveal What Work Culture Used To Look Like For myself, 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 that would measure your skirt length by having you kneel on the floor, and would 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.

WindyWood4 , RDNE Stock project Report

Add photo comments
POST
christinekuhn avatar
Ael
Community Member
2 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Yeah, the amount of harassment of all sorts one had to endure if the boss was s**t, it's unbelievable. And I'm talking about Germany, which has comparatively good laws to protect workers!

View More Replies...
View more commentsArrow down menu

“I also personally love the ability to work from home. That really changed my life for the better. I used to go into the office sometimes 7 days a week (yes, 7 at the worst). I had no energy to do anything else after doing this. I'm so thankful remote work has become normalized.”

“Lastly, from my personal experience, I feel like workplaces have become a little less tolerant of bosses/people in general who acted really horribly towards others. This is a problem that won't ever fully go away but I do think there's a little more accessibility to calling people out who blatantly harass, bully, and create hostile work environments. People are more highly aware of "toxic work environments" and won't put up with them nowadays - job hopping is more common than ever. People are demanding more and better from their employers, and I say good for them! If you're surrounded by a draining and poor work environment - it's best to leave. I've done it before and never regretted it, not once. It seems like employees have more of a voice now for their workplace concerns and more opportunities to find better out there. Job hopping is totally normalized.”

ADVERTISEMENT
#10

“It Was A Culture Of Fear”: People Over 50 Reveal What Work Culture Used To Look Like We took a company van with a logo on it to take out of town guests to a strip club. I don’t even think I can say that out loud at work today.

scruffles360 , Level 23 Media Report

Add photo comments
POST
eamebucozmffwciufv avatar
eame
Community Member
2 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I've worked for places that not only wrote off strip clubs, but wrote off sex workers too--there were specialty hotels (probably still are) that will include it as part of your room charge. Everywhere needs to ban entertaining as a corporate tax write-off. It's so abused.

View More Replies...
View more commentsArrow down menu
#11

That you chose a career, and you worked for an employee - and they valued your experience. You rose in the ranks of your profession, you became a valued team member, and you stayed until you retired. Changing jobs often is frowned on, if you make a job commitment - you follow through on it. People get bothered and quit/move/change really quickly now. That's not necessarily bad, but it has created a gap in expertise - everyone is new all the time, and there isn't any value in having experience. If you happen to be an elder in your field with some level of legacy knowledge -it doesn't seem to matter because your boss is likely younger than you, and less experienced. There used to be jobs - what you did to get paid and live, and careers - what you did because you wanted to invest time into being good at something AND that was how you made a living. Moreover - you went to school to be in a career. So you put time and energy into attaining your job, therefore you'd want to stay in it and grow. In theory.

I'm not sure anyone cares about being in a career anymore. Because we all feel so betrayed by the system - wages not keeping up with COL, inflation, (and inflation subsiding and prices staying high because its what the market will bear) - when everyone is replaceable, then no one is an expert. I'm GenX. I work in healthcare. I work in a broken system that no one actually wants to fix. Those of us working in this system are now just grist for the mill. It's too bad because we spent a lot of time and money to go to school to be able to work in our chosen field.

In contrast - my mom was also a nurse. She had a career. She worked in it until she was 70 and retired. She worked with a team that mostly stayed the same, over decades. I don't work with anyone I started with at my job 6 years ago.

bunnehfeet Report

Add photo comments
POST
eamebucozmffwciufv avatar
eame
Community Member
2 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Yep. I have the same job as my parent. They had 3 kids and a 4-bedroom house and money left over for things. I struggle to make ends meet and live alone. I will never retire.

View more commentsArrow down menu
ADVERTISEMENT
#12

“It Was A Culture Of Fear”: People Over 50 Reveal What Work Culture Used To Look Like Having to go to the bank to cash my paycheck

Cndngirl , Karolina Grabowska Report

Add photo comments
POST
beab_ avatar
Ample Aardvark
Community Member
2 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Always hated queuing up at the bank! Once it was so hot I passed out in the queue. I haven't set foot in a bank for a decade and I don't miss it at all!

View More Replies...
View more commentsArrow down menu

On the other hand, we were also interested to hear what he thought we could learn from workplaces of the past. “I think companies should read my thread, honestly. I saw comments about how careers used to mean you were supposed to stay at a job for years and years and develop your craft solely with them. That is not the case anymore. Companies need to ask themselves why employees are less willing to stay longer now. My personal experience with job hopping is that I often found I could get paid more by job hopping every 2 years in my old career path. That shouldn't be the case, but it is. It seems like in-company raises are underwhelming people and companies aren't giving enough other reasons for people to stay.”

#13

Customer service: how rude patrons have become

MRSRN65 Report

Add photo comments
POST
davidmelcher avatar
Javelina Poppers
Community Member
2 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Companies outsourcing their "customer service" hotlines to foreign countries is the worst. I was recently on such a call to "Timmy" in Pakistan who had dogs barking and fighting near him during the call..........it was painful to say the least.

View More Replies...
View more commentsArrow down menu
#15

I'm 42 but feel like I want to chime in.

Health and safety has changed loads. You wouldn't get away with half the s**t we did when I was 17

section4 Report

Add photo comments
POST
vvmartin avatar
pep Ito
Community Member
2 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

There were no cell phones with cameras in every pocket.

View more commentsArrow down menu

“A big theme of the replies seemed to be that how much work we get done in a limited amount of time along with less resource waste along the way is hugely improved, but the wages and what we as a society get out of work has not kept up accordingly. Which is sad, in my opinion. Think of how much more work people would do if they actually felt financially, emotionally, and professionally fulfilled. Corporate greed killed optimism in the workplace, in my opinion.”

#16

“It Was A Culture Of Fear”: People Over 50 Reveal What Work Culture Used To Look Like Sending a memo meant typing something, sometimes on an actual typewriter. Physically passing said document to the people in the “to” line. They would sign their initials signifying they read it. Then pass on to the next.

I remember people used to smoke cigarettes in their office.

stuckinPA , Thom Milkovic Report

#17

“It Was A Culture Of Fear”: People Over 50 Reveal What Work Culture Used To Look Like Maternity and paternity leave are new (US). When I started working it was still common to fire women who were expecting. Or require them to take very little leave. Women used to brag about taking only a few days off.

Today the young men where I work get months off as paternity leave when their spouses have a baby.

Plain_Chacalaca , Ömürden Cengiz Report

Add photo comments
POST
feuerrabe avatar
VioletHunter
Community Member
2 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Since when is this a thing at all in the US? I keep hearing there are no laws for paid parental leave.

View More Replies...
View more commentsArrow down menu
#18

“It Was A Culture Of Fear”: People Over 50 Reveal What Work Culture Used To Look Like In the 1980s, people getting s**t-faced drunk at lunch was a regular occurrence. I've only seen it twice in the last 5 years.

Flexible time and WFH didn't exist.

Southern-Beautiful-3 , Fred Moon Report

#19

“It Was A Culture Of Fear”: People Over 50 Reveal What Work Culture Used To Look Like My first health insurance was Blue Cross, top level. Cost me nothing monthly and I had $5 copays.

feckless_ellipsis , National Cancer Institute Report

#20

“It Was A Culture Of Fear”: People Over 50 Reveal What Work Culture Used To Look Like Gifts from vendors were a thing. I used to get things like free bottles of booze from enterprise software companies we licensed from. That dried up years ago.

doctor_x , Olivia Bollen Report

Add photo comments
POST
vvmartin avatar
pep Ito
Community Member
2 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

This is due to compliance policies to avoid bribery, especially in key departments that can influence the purchase of one product over another to the detriment of the company.

View More Replies...
View more commentsArrow down menu
#21

Working for a company for many years was seen as honorable and a sign you were a good worker. Now it’s viewed as someone complacent, scared of change and stupid for not salary hopping. I don’t disagree though I’ve been at my company for a long time and it’s anything but complacent and always changing.

MysteryMeat11 Report

Add photo comments
POST
chelseamckee avatar
Chelsea McKee
Community Member
2 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

👀 Some of us appreciate stability and consistency in our day.

View more commentsArrow down menu
See Also on Bored Panda
#22

I was fired from my first office job out of college (as a secretary for a job recruiting shop) 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.

My third office job was working for one of the big accounting firms-- and I spent an inordinate amount of time at work building my little home on the web at Geocities. No one in IT was paying any attention to what people were doing on their computers because it was relatively new. Today it wouldn't take long for IT to discover that misuse.

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 c**p today, I would have owned his business by the time my court case was done.

TimmyIV Report

Add photo comments
POST
remande avatar
Robert Mandeville
Community Member
2 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Asking a 16 year old to sleep with the boss to keep the job. Wouldn't that be attempted statutory rape?

View More Replies...
View more commentsArrow down menu
#23

“It Was A Culture Of Fear”: People Over 50 Reveal What Work Culture Used To Look Like People used to answer their business phones.

BornFree2018 , Karolina Grabowska Report

#24

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 actually 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 s**t got done and work piled up for Monday.

You got paid either direct debit, cash or if you were unlucky by cheque. You had to deposit your cheque in the bank or a building society and wait for the cheque to clear, usually 4 days, but sometimes 10 days. 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.

ElvishMystical Report

Add photo comments
POST
jb_16 avatar
JB
Community Member
2 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Yeah, I remember the Friday liquid lunches. I worked for a bank in the 90’s, those lunches were paid for by corporate credit card. We didn’t ever process manual transactions on a Friday afternoon.

View More Replies...
View more commentsArrow down menu
#25

“It Was A Culture Of Fear”: People Over 50 Reveal What Work Culture Used To Look Like My mom said back in the 80s some people would do c*ke at work. Also a lot of sexual harassment happened a lot and no one ever did anything about it. This was at a government job...

Slow_Air4569 , MART PRODUCTION Report

#26

58 YO engineer. When I started we shared computers at work. They were expensive and lots of things were still done by hand. I did not have a computer in college. We also did not have cell phones, texts, e-mail, video conference, internet, etc…. It was nearly impossible to collaborate with people in other offices . Blue prints were sent out for printing and we had flat drawers full of archived prints. We would have to hand sign/seal every page. Now we can collaborate between offices and every thing is an electronic file. It is amazing to me.

Caspers_Shadow Report

Add photo comments
POST
roxy-eastland avatar
Roxy222uk
Community Member
2 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Slightly different but in the same vein. When I did my degree and had hand in my dissertation typed I paid to have it typed up. In those days there were literally shops you could go into and arrange to have stuff you needed to typed.

View more commentsArrow down menu
#27

“It Was A Culture Of Fear”: People Over 50 Reveal What Work Culture Used To Look Like Men had to wear suit/tie to work every day and women had to wear what our company defined as 'interview attire' (professional dress/pantsuit). I remember when our first 'jeans Friday' was implemented, our manager wore jeans to support the effort, but they were ironed with a crease down the middle - hilarious. Now, for the same role at the same company, people work remote and wear sweats or whatever the hell they want.

BrewboyEd , Nimble Made Report

Add photo comments
POST
ellenranks avatar
Diolla
Community Member
2 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Yes! It's been a long time since I last ironed a crease into pants. Or ironed a button-up shirt.

View More Replies...
View more commentsArrow down menu
#28

It was expected and accepted to take office supplies home. Almost everyone did it and it wasn't looked at like the evil act it is today. (No, I'm not dying to "steal" from my job, but it's just an interesting difference.) Health insurance... I don't think I need to elaborate on how that's gone Christmas bonuses were much more common. Damn, I keep trying to think of changes for the better lol... Oh, well, at least the pay's the same

EnvironmentSea7433 Report

#29

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 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.

We once had a wave of new hires (about 20 people in our company of 400) and each got their own announcement. So, 20x50 copies = 2 reams of paper. Copied. Hand carried or inter-department mailed. For one set of announcements.

Oh, and each department admin had their own routing slip (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.

UncleGizmo Report

Add photo comments
POST
tucker_cahooter avatar
Tucker Cahooter
Community Member
2 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Ah yes, the interoffice memo. People would read it, cross their name off and leave it in their 'out' tray to eventually be picked up and placed in the next person's 'in' tray.

View more commentsArrow down menu
#30

so when i started working my first job was to install a computer and printer into a bank where they had 50 people typing form letters for late mortgage payments. they had a form and they would line up the blank areas of the form and type in the numbers. imagine a giant rectangular room with desks, each one holding an inbox and an outbox and a typerwriter. manual typerwriter. ibm selectrics hadn't come up. i installed the computer, a copy of wordstar with mailmerge and when this room of workers watched all of the letters they needed to produce in a week come out of that printer before lunch they all knew that their jobs were over. banks are not sentimental. 

bruceki Report

Add photo comments
POST
vvmartin avatar
pep Ito
Community Member
2 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

The same goes for the accounting rooms full of tables with an accountant and his calculator at best, etc.

View more commentsArrow down menu

Note: this post originally had 37 images. It’s been shortened to the top 30 images based on user votes.