1066: The Origins of Office Space
Have you ever wondered where office space originated? Do you find yourself thinking about the impact that offices of the past have had on todayΓÇÖs workspace?
No? Well, it was a long shot. But here at officebroker.com, offices are our business, so weΓÇÖve got license to think these things.
And now – whether you want us to or not – weΓÇÖre going to share with you the most interesting parts of the evolution of the office.
Welcome to our History of Office Space series, starting with the first commercial offices to originate in England…
Government Office Space
Putting aside factories, warehouses, agriculture, private studies, the church and academia, the commercial-use offices we know now began to take shape in England shortly after the Norman Conquest in 1066, along with all the other radical changes that took place under King William I.
Back in those days, the King established two official bodies; the Chancery and the Exchequer. The Chancery was tasked with creating official documents of government and the Exchequer kept track of the countryΓÇÖs finances.
These functions formed part of the royal household until sometime before the 13th century, when they branched out and set up the first commercial-use office space in Westminster.
This is also the time when the word ΓÇÿofficeΓÇÖ as we understand it today entered the English language.
Offices of the past were probably pretty different to the way we work now. But if you look closely, some of the traditions established by William I nearly 1000 years ago still exist:
ΓÇó The economic based in the City is thanks to it being the first home of the Exchequer.
ΓÇó Parliament is at Westminster because politics remained close to the Royal Court.
ΓÇó Pigeon holes were in use at the Chancery in Westminster around this time, used in the same way they are today ΓÇô to organise and hold paperwork.
Commercial or retail offices were parts of larger warehouses or factories or shared between many businesses for around 500 years afterward. Come the dawn of the era of mercantilism in the 15th century, demand for standalone office space overtook supply in the cities and independent offices designated strictly for the use of office work were established across the UK.
Modern Example: Royal Mint Court, London EC3
The closest example of this medieval office space we know of ΓÇô that can still be rented today ΓÇô is Royal Mint Court in London.
Royal Mint Court was built to manufacture the Royal Mint in 1807 following the orders of King George III. This royal function moved on from this site in 1975 and this serviced office building is now available for rent by London businesses!