For centuries people have been getting up, joining a daily commute or retreating to a room, to work. The office has become inseparable from work.
Its history illustrates not only how our work has changed but also how work’s physical spaces respond to cultural, technological and social forces.
The origins of the modern office lie with large-scale organisations such as governments, trading companies and religious orders that required written records or documentation. Medieval monks, for example, worked in quiet spaces designed specifically for sedentary activities such as copying and studying manuscripts. As depicted in Botticelli’s St Augustine in His Cell, these early “workstations” comprised a desk, chair and storage shelves.