But by middle of the 20th Century most workers had a phone on their desk. They got used to the constant ringing and interruptions. People didn't get up to talk to each other, they spoke on the phone instead. The office switchboard was the hub of office, a sort of social glue connecting everyone to everyone else.
And that's how it stayed - until the last couple of years. We are now witnessing the death of the office landline, and with it the main switchboard.Continue reading the main story
If anyone really wants me, they send me an email, and because I don't like random disturbances any more than the Edwardians did, I've stopped answering my desk phone altogether.
This is how I feel about the telephone too. During the 1990's I relied on the phone for almost all business, though our ability to do more by email grew steadily throughout the decade. From about 1999 to 2005 I was really dependent upon people contacting me by mobile phone, but my dependence upon voice calls dropped off rapidly afterwards. About the time of the introduction of the iPhone I pretty much quit calling people. There's a phone on my desk in the new office, and the first thing I worked out how to do was to turn the ringer off.