The changing sounds of offices

It took a few days for all the technological pieces to fall into place at my new job. For the first while, I had no laptop or computer. I spent the time reading about files I would need to know in future and listening to the sounds of the office.

Office sounds have evolved.

Today, the ticky-ticky sound of laptop keys softly touched dominates the space. No more thunk of Selectric typewriter keys, the clickety-clack of its spinning ball of letters, and the ding of its bell at the margin.

A gentle ping signals new e-mails in Inboxes. No more rustling pink memo slips piled on desks.

The click of a mouse—computer mouse, not the real kind that might have cleaned up crumbs in drafty older offices— is far more common than the scratch of a pen.

There is the scrape of plastic security badges, not the jangle of loaded sets of keys.

My office phone, which rarely rings, plays a tune that sounds like melodic mariachi music. That is a big improvement over the spine-rattling trill of old black phones.

From time to time, the gentle murmur of a meeting conversation carries through the open-office environment. So different from the closed-door work meetings of decades ago.

When footsteps echo from managers’ offices, these days those footsteps could be made by either a male or female. Hallelujah.

Office sounds have evolved because our society has evolved.

We’re more efficient, we’re more secure, and we’re more equitable. That’s all good. But I sure do miss the sound of a good old Selectric typewriter. 

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