One Federal Office Is Reliving 'Nine to Five'

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It's a good thing turnover is low at the federal Economic Development Administration, so there are people around who remember how to use things like fax machines, the Yellow Pages, and note pads now that the agency's been without Internet access for 80 days—a severe fallout from a virus that came in an email. While the administration's plight serves as a cautionary tale to keep up with virus protection and be careful with attachments, it also sounds kind of fun, at least if you're not one of the people tasked with combatting the virus or rebuilding the operating network. For now, the agency's a place you can go to see a real circa 1980s office at work, just like in Dolly Parton's Nine to Five.

Per The Washington Post's Lisa Rein, "Employees became reacquainted with their neighborhood post office and the beep-squeak-hiss of the fax machine. The must-have office supply switched from iPhone to toner." 

She continues later: "People are rediscovering what it was like to scribble down a “When you were out” slip. They pick up the phone, calling congressional staff members, for example, to announce a grant in their districts. They meet potential clients face to face." The walks to the post office, the actual human contact, it sounds like a welcome break from overflowing inboxes and endless email threads. But then there's the reminder of why we like being able to manage documents online and send attachments: "With their data frozen on infected PCs and no place in the field to scan federal forms, staff members have retyped hundreds of pages into word processors, key by key." Much less fun.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.