Time Traveller Day

Today 8th December is Pretend to be a Time Traveller Day

Instead of travelling into the future, I’m going to time travel back to the early 1980’s, when the work I do today as a Virtual Assistant would never have been possible. The closest to it would have been a Temp, working in differing organisations offices.

I have worked in administration for many years ~ far too many; and over time have witnessed the many changes which have evolved in the world of ‘Office Working’ Although for the most part I have always enjoyed the work I do, it is so much easier in 2015

The only thing I did back then in the 80’s, which I still do now is talk to clients’ on the telephone; although back then I would have had to sit at my desk, as telephones were attached to cords ~ No mobiles or hands free devices back then. We would get wrapped in the cord if we moved away by a few inches.

We didn’t have the Internet, Apps and Software (TCP was an antiseptic we put on cuts and grazes) ~ we used typewriters, ledgers, envelopes and postage stamps. We relied heavily on the Post Office to get the mail to our customers and had to pay for recorded delivery if we needed confirmation that the letter or package had arrived. Yes, no read email receipts for us back then.

I was taught to type on a manual typewriter during the late 1970’s. It had big heavy keys that had to be hit quite hard to hit the paper in the barrel, so the advent of the electric typewriter and my first use of it caused a lot of laughter. A row of aaaaaaaa’s was not uncommon, but we rarely made mistakes; instead of spell checking and correcting, everything had to be started afresh, so we made sure that our work was error free.

According to my Office Manager at the time, Tip-ex was the devils spawn and was never to be used. We also had to use carbon paper to allow us to make a copy of the document, which, if you had a synthetic fibre carpet in the office used to be a tricky job, as static was your nemesis. Carbon paper doesn’t like static, and it used to cling to everything except the paper it was meant to back. Oh the joys of the old fashioned typing experience, it wasn’t easy, in fact there was an art to it. But we all became accomplished at it to keep our jobs.

Bookkeeping.  Not for us back then an Excel spreadsheet or Sage. We had to use journals and ledgers. They were usually big heavy pre-lined books. Entries had to be hand-written and double entry. I could write a whole book on nominal ledgers! There was so much to learn back then and precision was key, no hand written 3’s could ever look like 8’s. Handwriting had to be so neat and precise.

Once the ledger was complete, for accounting purposes it had to be kept for 5 years. The storage room of the office I first worked in was huge and lined with metal racks which housed row upon row of numerically filed ledgers and box files filled with invoices and letters. If not filled correctly accounts and ledgers would take hours to find at audit time and we would get a serious look and a bad comment from the Auditors.

It’s so much easier to hit the ‘save’ button and store the file in a nice neat folder on our computers. We really have got it easy these days.

Documents and urgency. If a document had to be received by the recipient urgently, then the envelope it went in was rubber stamped URGENT and put into first class post or recorded delivery. We couldn’t draft an email, mark it as of High importance and tell the recipient that the paper copy was in the post.

Time Traveller Day Rubber Stamp

We also didn’t have a fax machine; although even today the Fax is slowly becoming redundant ~ I haven’t used one in many years. The only instant form of communication we had back then was the telephone, but we had to be indoors to use it.

Clouds were white/grey fluffy things in the sky and databases were our brains or a filing system and the phrase ‘paperless office’ was just laughable.

Does anyone still work in an old fashioned office? I’ve heard there are a few in existence… One where a calculator is considered technology. I know for sure I definitely couldn’t do my job in an office like it. Could you?

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Karina Bailey

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Written by Karina Bailey

Karina is the real person behind the Virtual Assistant. I support local small business owners, helping to relieve their admin stress and concentrate on their core business. When not at my desk working I can be found in graveyards, researching my family history. Dancing the Salsa and listening to local bands.