Do you still have a Rolodex™ and a standard phone on your desk?  If so, you may be living in the past, according to a September 2012 study by LinkedIn®, a social network that helps professionals connect with each other for jobs, collaborations and business opportunities.  In its “Office Endangered Species” study, LinkedIn surveyed more than 7,000 professionals worldwide to find out which office tools and trends will most likely disappear over the next five years.

According to the professionals surveyed, the top 10 items and office trends that are becoming rare and could even disappear by 2017 are:

  1. Tape recorders (79 percent)
  2. Fax machines (71 percent)
  3. The Rolodex (58 percent)
  4. Standard working hours (57 percent)
  5. Desk phones (35 percent)
  6. Desktop computers (34 percent)
  7. Formal business attire like suits, ties and pantyhose (27 percent)
  8. The corner office for managers/executives (21 percent)
  9. Cubicles (19 percent)
  10. USB thumb drives (17 percent)

Globally, professionals selected tablets (55 percent), cloud storage (54 percent), and flexible working hours and smartphones (which tied at 52 percent) as office tools that are becoming more widespread. Professionals in the U.S. selected tablets (62 percent) as the new tool that is taking over offices.

“It’s no surprise to see the Rolodex gathering dust as the pace of technological innovation rapidly makes many workplace practices and tools redundant,” said LinkedIn’s connection director, Nicole Williams.

Rachel Noel, office manager at G. W. Schleidt, a Las Vegas-based a wholesaler of home and garden accents, agrees with the survey results.  “We still rely on fax machines for receiving orders from customers, and we still keep regular office hours,” she explained.  “However, we also use tablets to collect orders at trade shows.  We can scan the orders there and import them directly into our accounting system.”

“In our line of business, having the ability to conduct work from anywhere, especially being able to communicate in the field, gives us the upper hand,” says Ginnie Salazar, director of Logistical Solutions, LLC, which provides environmental and safety services in southern Nevada.  “Our staff is equipped with smartphones, laptops and scanners so we can work in virtually any place (be it a physical office space or a job site.)  Waiting for someone to find a contact in a Rolodex or searching through a briefcase to find a thumb drive has gone away.  Direct land lines have pretty much disappeared with the advancement and capabilities of VoIP phone lines and cellular connections, as well as Skype™ and FaceTime.™”

Stuart Litjens, owner of Boulder Boats, agrees about the importance of modern communications.   His company, which sells and services boats and RVs at two southern Nevada locations, just installed a new VoIP phone system to help them stay in touch with customers.  “The old way of doing things was to have someone take a message, write it down, and then try to contact me,” he says.  “Now I have one phone number, and it follows me wherever I am so I never miss a message.  Voicemails go into my email so I can access them right away.  It’s really critical not to miss a call.  If someone wants to buy a boat today and they can’t get a hold of me, they may move on to another dealer.  We still occasionally have to receive and send faxes, but we don’t have a fax machine.  It all goes through the computer.”

The setup of modern offices is also changing.  Salazar explains, “Designated cubicles and plush individual offices are non-existent in our building.  Because our work schedules vary significantly, all office space is equipped to provide access to all employees to perform their duties at any given time.  This arrangement provides for a more efficient use of the office space available.”

Time will tell how office products and trends will evolve, but it seems certain that greater connectivity will play a part in the evolution of the 21st century office.


The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice.