Influence of Computers
Until the late 1980s, desks remained a place for paperwork and business negotiation, though at the end of this decade, the personal computer was taking hold in large and medium sized businesses. New office suites included a "knee hole" credenza which was a place for a terminal or personal computer and keyboard tray. Soon new office designs also included "U-shape" suites which added a bridge worksurface between the back credenza and front desk. During the North American recession of the early 1990s, many manager and executive workers had to do word processing and other functions previously completed by typing pools and secretaries. This necessitated a more central placement of the computer on these "U-shape" suite desk systems.
With computers abounding, "computer paper" became an office staple. The beginning of this paper boom gave birth to the dream of the "paperless office", in which all information would appear on computer monitors. However, the ease of printing personal documents and the lack of comfort with reading text on computer monitors led to a great deal of document printing. The need for paperwork space vied with the rising desk space taken up by computer monitors, CPUs, printers, scanners, and other peripherals. As well, the need for more space led some desk companies to attach some items to the modesty panel at the back of the desk, such as multi-outlets and cabling.
Through the "tech boom" of the 1990s, office worker numbers skyrocketed along with the cost of office space rent. The cubicle desk became widely accepted in North America as an economical way of putting more desk workers in the same space without actually shrinking the size of their working surfaces. The cubicle walls have become new place for workers to affix papers and other items once left on the horizontal desktop surface. Even computer monitor frames themselves are used to attach reminder notes and business cards.
Early in the 2000s, private office workers found that their side and back computer-placing furniture made it hard to show the contents of a computer screen to guests or co-workers. Manufacturers have responded to this issue by creating "Forward Facing" desks where computer monitors are placed on the front of the "U-shape" workstation. This forward computer monitor placement promotes a clearer sight-line to greet colleagues, increases computer screen privacy and allows for common viewing of information displayed on a screen.
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