"Clouds Of Smoke Everywhere In The Office And No Way For A Nonsmoker To Avoid": People 50-Plus Are Revealing What Work Culture Was Like When They First Started

If, like me, you watched Mad Men, then you know what a WILD experience it is to see just how different work culture was in the 1960s — particularly in the type of behavior that wasn't just allowed to be okay but expected. However, when you think about it, even within the last 15 years of work culture, things have changed quite a bit.

The cast of "Mad Men"
Amc / ©AMC / courtesy Everett Collection

And recently, Reddit user LightningStrikes818 was interested in just how much things have changed over the decades when they asked: "Redditors who are 50+ years old, what has changed the most about working when you started working vs. working nowadays?"

Screenshot from "9 to 5"
20thcentfox / 20th Century Fox Licensing/Merchandising / Everett Collection

Well lots and lots of people over 50 responded with the changes they've seen both good and bad. Below are the top and best comments:

1."We took a company van — with the company's logo on it — to take out of town guests to a strip club. I don’t even think I can say that out loud at work today."

men at a strip club

2."Skirts/dresses and pantyhose required of women in many offices through the 1990s."

a woman at her desk

3."Having to go to the bank to cash my paycheck."

People in line at the bank

4."Things run so much leaner now as the excess is gone. When I started, it seemed everyone at VP level and up had an expense account. Eating lunch at your desk was weird. You always went out, always had a beer, and it was almost always paid for with an exec’s company card."

People at lunch

5."So when I started working, my first job was to install a computer and printer into a bank where they had 50 people typing form letters for late mortgage payments. They had a form, and they would line up the blank areas of the form and type in the numbers. Imagine a giant rectangular room with desks, each one holding an inbox, an outbox, and a typewriter — a manual typewriter."

People working at their desks

6."People smoking indoors. Clouds of smoke everywhere in the office and no way for a nonsmoker to avoid it. That was the norm so you just had to suck it up."

An office worker smoking while on the phone

7.'"Zero tolerance' at schools. Back then, 'boys will be boys' could have been the motto of the entire school system. Fights? Who cares! No adult did. Now, if bullies start a fight, both the bully and the bullied get suspended."

Two bigger guys bullying a smaller guy

8."Hardly anybody has a pension anymore."

Files with "Mortgage" and "Pension" labels on them

9."You worked for an employer, and they valued your experience. You rose in the ranks of your profession, you became a valued team member, and you stayed until you retired. Changing jobs often is frowned on, if you make a job commitment — you follow through on it. People get bothered and quit/move/change really quickly now. That's not necessarily bad, but it has created a gap in expertise — everyone is new all the time, and there isn't any value in having experience."

People working in an office

10."For myself, it was a culture of fear. Sexist bosses who would harass female employees constantly. They didn't have to be male either. I had a female boss that would measure your skirt length by having you kneel on the floor, and would measure your hem with a ruler. More than two inches too short? Clock out, go home and change, and then come back. Rinse and repeat. Many male managers took pride in being able to make women cry. There was public embarrassment if you made a mistake. Feeling like your job was in jeopardy at all times. Surprisingly, I don't miss it."

a ruler
Taesmileland / Getty Images/iStockphoto

11."I watched office work go from sedentary to virtually immobile. We used to retrieve paper files, pass memos around, consult with coworkers in other sections and floors. Now everything is available on the screen in front of us, everything can be shared with a few clicks. It’s convenient, but so unhealthy."

People working in an office
Keith Brofsky / Getty Images

12."There was a lot more understanding back in the '80s and '90s that each employee had a life outside of work, and work would end at 5 p.m. You could leave work and go do something that you liked, maybe a martial arts class or some learning workshop somewhere. There were no phone calls. Text messages and email hadn't happened yet. Pagers were rare."

A clock-out machine

13."I am 58-year-old engineer. When I started, we shared computers at work. They were expensive, and lots of things were still done by hand. We also did not have cellphones, texts, email, video conference, internet, etc. It was nearly impossible to collaborate with people in other offices. Blueprints were sent out for printing, and we had flat drawers full of archived prints. We would have to hand sign/seal every page. Now we can collaborate between offices, and everything is an electronic file. It is amazing to me."

A person's desk with glasses, pens, documents
Goran Babic / Getty Images

14."People used to answer their business phones."

a woman working in an office

15."My first health insurance was Blue Cross, top level. Cost me nothing monthly, and I had $5 copays."

A health insurance agreement

16."Sending a memo meant typing something, sometimes on an actual typewriter. Physically passing said document to the people in the 'to' line. They would sign their initials, signifying they read it. Then pass on to the next."

a memo

17."Maternity and paternity leave are new (US). When I started working, it was still common to fire women who were expecting. Or require them to take very little leave. Women used to brag about taking only a few days off. Today, the young men where I work get months off as paternity leave when their spouses have a baby."

a pregnant woman working in an office
Comstock / Getty Images

18.And lastly, "My mom said back in the '80s, some people would do coke at work. Also, a lot of sexual harassment happened a lot, and no one ever did anything about it. This was at a government job."

"I want to burn this place down."

You can read the full thread of responses on Reddit.

Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.