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10 Ways the Office Has Changed Since Your Dad's Old 9-to-5

Kate O'Brien on April 04, 2016 08:00 AM


Around here we like to say, “It’s not your father’s workplace, so these aren’t your father’s benefits” when we're talking about how Care@Work helps modern companies solve the work-life challenges modern families face. 

That got me thinking ... What, exactly, has changed since our fathers were the dominant part of the workforce? Well, a whole lot.

Here are some of the most significant -- OK, obvious -- changes we noticed when comparing the workplace of old to today. Told in GIFs, of course. 

1. Hours


Your father’s 9-to-5 workday is no longer the norm. With improved technology and increased globalization, punching the clock before and after eight hours in a cubicle isn’t typical or even practical for many employees. Whether it’s coming in early to avoid rush hour traffic, working from home or answering emails whenever and wherever they need your attention, modern employees are willing and able to thrive in flexible work arrangements.

2. Office Spaces  


Work is no longer tied to a single location as it was for our fathers. Forget cubicles, break rooms and water coolers -- modern offices opt for open floor plans that promote collaboration and socialization, and some workplaces have even established a “hot desk” policy where employees are free to sit where they please. Some may see game rooms and shared spaces as a challenge. But look on the bright side: We probably won’t be exiled to the basement like poor Milton from "Office Space."

3. Perks


In recent years there has been an onslaught of work perks that stray from your father’s health care benefits and pension plan. These “perks” are often portrayed as methods of attracting Millennial employees, but who doesn't appreciate free food and beer every once in a while? The weirder the perks are the better – like Google’s “conference bikes” seen above. Workplaces now offer more than a place to work, and with game rooms, free snacks, nap rooms, dry cleaning pick-up, on-site gyms, grocery delivery (I could go on) employees can now cover many of their necessities without leaving the workplace.

READ MORE 15 Companies with Work-Life Benefits Your Employeees Dream About 

4. Career Paths


Did anyone else’s dad work at the same place their entire childhood? Not so standard anymore. In fact, only 11 percent of millennials (the largest segment of today’s workforce) say they'd never leave their current employer. Hopefully most people aren’t as cynical as our boy Jim, but it’s true that job hopping is not only more normal, it’s now seen as a method of advancing your career.

5. Tech Upgrades 


The first Apple Mac computer went on sale in the 80’s and back then it would have been a luxury for an office. Now, every new employee expects a laptop on their first day, and some even have company smart phones. It’s a good thing most of us aren’t huge technophobes like Ron Swanson from "Parks and Recreation."

6. Dress Code


A suit and tie used to be the workday uniform, now it's a Justin Timberlake song. Taking it a step further, many employees actually have to dress up to meet a business casual standard when the board's in town to visit the office. While we have to be careful of not going too far in the other direction (unless they're covered under cardigan, spaghetti straps are seriously unprofesh) we can acknowledge dressing to the nines isn’t all that practical ... like when Jim took the dress code a little too seriously on "The Office".

7. Parental Leave


Time was, “parental leave” was a mythical idea. More like maternity leave the workforce and maybe come back part-time when the kids are in school. Whereas our fathers were focused on bringing home the bacon, today’s moms and dads are challenging gender norms and striving to share caregiving and breadwinning roles. Progressive employers -- and some city and state governments, too -- are changing with the times and introducing paid parental leave for new moms and dads. 

READ MORE: 7 Companies with Innovative Parental Leave Policies

8. Happy Hour


Martini lunches and scotch in the CEO’s office (a la Mad Men) are largely a thing of the past. Once a privilege for the elite, alcohol in the office is becoming an entry level expectation, whether it’s a beer stocked fridge or a weekly happy hour with free food and drinks.

9. Women in the Workplace


Notice that this post is not about our mother’s workplace? That's not just because we're staying true to the Oldsmobile-inspired idiom. The female segment of the workforce has grown and diversified over the past four or five decades. We can tie most of the income gains of the American Middle Class directly to increased female laborforce participation. Not only are women entering the workforce in greater numbers, they're impacting it in more ways than ever before.

10. Communication 


How could we forget? We've come a long way from relying on messengers, overnight shipping and fax machines (although sometimes we still do use all of those things). Emails, text, instant messaging and file sharing has moved communication forward by leaps and bounds. And that's to say nothing of the memos and Mr.'s that were once so common in the office environment. In many ways, our more modern fast and less formal communications have made work easier. And yet, our constant contact can be equal parts blessing and curse these days.  

It’s obvious our workplace has changed a lot, and yet a lot of our policies are stuck in the "Leave it to Beaver" era. Companies need to work to meet the needs of the 21st century workforce, whether that’s by adding a game room or offering family-care benefits that fit their unique needs.