Which Outdated Office Technology Do You Most Want To Discard?

Which Outdated Office Technology Do You Most Want To Discard?

Our offices are filled with gear reflecting outdated work practices: fax machines, tape recorders, filing cabinets. Which one would you most like to give the flick?

Picture by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

A recent poll by work social networking site LinkedIn survey asked Australians to identify the “office tools and trends” they expect to disappear by 2017. The list is a mix of items that has been replaced by email and calendar software and nervousness about the workplace of the future:

  • Tape recorders (86 per cent)
  • Fax machines (79 per cent)
  • The Rolodex (79 per cent)
  • Standard working hours (66 per cent)
  • Desktop computers (28 per cent)
  • Desk phones (27 per cent)
  • Formal business attire such as suits and ties (24 per cent)
  • Corner offices for managers/executives (23 per cent)
  • Cubicles (17 per cent)
  • An office with a door (15 per cent)

For the record, the Allure office has desk phones, a (rarely-used) fax machine and several desktop computers, but the ties only come out on special occasions and no-one gets their own door. The fax is definitely the most irritating inclusion, but some organisations still insist on receiving faxes for invoices.

Which of these items are still left in your office, and which would you most like to see die? Tell us (and tell us why) in the comments.


  • I’m going to jump into fantasy land and say email. Gads it’d be nice to have a replacement that wasn’t such a horrifically unreliable and messy clustercuss.

    But it won’t happen, it’s too firmly entrenched. Sigh.

    • The problem isn’t that it’s too entrenched, the problem is there aren’t many viable replacements. IM? not good for delayed-response matters. Social networking? Maybe, but there are a lot of robustness/accessibility/control issues to work through before it can reliably replace email.

      The Unified Communications trend is continuing anyway. email clients dont just do email, they also handle calendars/contacts/IM/voicecalls/some social networking. email itself is just one cog in the email product.

      On topic: I’d like to get rid of forms that have to be physically signed. Almost all the paper in this office are documents the government wont let us scan and destroy.

  • Fax
    Desktop phones
    A company that will only let you put the switch number on your email signature block so all calls are routed through reception. How 1950s is that!

  • How are printers/copiers not on the list? Working in IT they are the hardest devices to support (maintaining drivers and the constant purchasing of toner) and it seems we’re getting further and further away from the “paperless” society talked about in the ’90s… if anything, it seems that the places i work at are using more paper than ever…

  • I like my office door.
    I like my fax (our email server goes down more than a cheap wh0re).
    I LOVE having all my calls screened by the receptionist.
    I will, however, enjoy having a bonfire for all my ties on the day those are banished!

  • I like that “cubicles” and “offices with doors” are about neck and neck in that survey.

    Faxes are terrible, terrible devices. I work for a PCI-compliant merchant, and our providing bank refuses to supply details of chargebacks, including full plain-text credit card numbers, in any form other than fax. To ensure PCI compliance we either need to get a new dedicated phone line and fax installed, or pull the entire office in to scope (with fun things like CCD monitoring and background checks for all staff).

  • XP, single 17″ monitors, wired mice, calls via switchboards, over long and complicated company domain names, not opening WiFi to employees, furniture that creaks, Microsoft outlook (in all its variants), IT departments that demand we use ie8 and get hot an bothered if you use anything else, IT support that only exists to displace the blame for everything – new company email showing up incorrectly on my iPad? Blame apple – not their own set up. At least I don’t have to use a TELEX anymore – young people today, don’t know they’re born.

    • It is Apple’s fault. Apple is well known in the industry to not like working with anything that isn’t Apple. Apple’s solution – Buy an Apple server. Other companies can get their OS and devices working with all kinds of servers, but not Apple.

    • Almost all the things you have listed sound like things you don’t necessarily NEED, for instance what programs or functions can you not use on XP? While I’d certainly prefer a later OS XP still works quite well.

      Although the fact that your IT department “demands” that you use IE8 rather than just restricting your access so you have to use it says a lot…

  • How about remove staff members that are technologically impared and find it necessary to constantly get the IT department to “Make a program appear on the desktop” or argue that another IT guy did infact upgrade his PC to Windows 10, and that is why his internet doesn’t work. Yes it happened.

    • Every employee has their own role. You can’t expect everyone to be an expert in IT, just as you can’t expect everyone to speak Italian. However, both these skills can be useful in an office.

      • I dunno – if I owned a small business that involved computer based work, I would make everyone do a basic computer competency test. I worked in UX design with one woman who could barely turn on her computer. She got away with it because people kept doing her job for her!

    • I don’t care if they don’t know how to use a computer as long as they can do their job without breaking anything. It’s only when the people above me don’t understand how computers work that it gets messy. So how about we get rid of bosses who judge IT performance based on how busy you look rather than things like how well the system is performing?

    • And if everyone was a computer expert, they wouldn’t need an IT department, or a much smaller IT department as no one will need to answer those questions anymore.

  • I’d love to get rid of printing everything in triplicate. I sell my soul working telecommunications retail and my employer requires everything signed in duplicate (one each for the customer and telco). They also require, among other things, plan pricing printed for every contract, which is information available on the company intranet. Get rid of it. Replace it with a digital pad signature, such as other telcos have already done, and email copies to all who require it.

  • i feel like i should say paper, but there are times when printing something out and breaking out the good old pen and highlighter gets things done so much faster
    i also say no to the desktop computer line. i traded in my laptop for a high powered dual wide screen desktop to allow me to churn through all of the data i go through for my job (medium-large data sets, 1-10million rows) and a laptop simply couldnt do the job

  • My workplace wishlist…

    Paper – it’s a disgusting ,messy object and NitroPDF have some technology to allow you to sign documents without pasting in an image. I say around 2016 though, legislation for physical copies will stop this from being done sooner rather then later.
    Cubicles – Standing desks, shared workspaces, a workable technology for every type of person. Really I would question any type of work environment that isn’t phasing / phased this out already (except in cases of disability for certain individual cases)
    IE6 – Why, why, why do we support this browser and not Chrome is a question asked on a daily basis
    Suits – My work only requires slacks and shirts, but a business casual setting is the way to go in my view

    I’m fairly young … But tape recorders? Really? Wow.

  • Using mapping software from 1994 that was last updated in 2003. Also office 2003.
    Government IT turns over incredibly slowly because they are afraid that change will break everything and insist on using 30 pages of indecipherable jargon every time they try to teach the staff something new so nobody ever learns how a new system works because it’s presented in such a mind numbing manner. They get hesitant about the system, only order 20 copies to ‘field test’ amongst a few hundred employees meaning for the first month your have to be one of the first people in in the morning if you want to sign in and they end up spending millions on systems that only run for a few years before they get shut down because “nobody uses them”.
    Meanwhile if you’re one of the 3-4 people in the office who bothered learning the new system and found it actually useful you find yourself suddenly reset to an antique package with an 8th of the features and 10x longer loading times.

    Complaining about our government IT systems, instant bonding session with my father in law.

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