[Tagging] definition of the key "office"

John Willis johnw at mac.com
Sat Jul 8 22:01:16 UTC 2017

> On Jul 8, 2017, at 11:11 PM, Martin Koppenhoefer <dieterdreist at gmail.com> wrote:
> Why is it shop=hairdresser or travel_agency, but office=estate_agent?


Shop: a retail space selling foods, goods, or services to customers, and is not a restaurant. 

Office: an commercial space where professionals at desks perform their job in private or for customers. Alternatively, it is the “home desk” for a professional who does their work predominantly “in the field”. 


I think it is the line between “blue collar” and “white collar” jobs. Service jobs where you wear are similarly not “white collar” jobs. Blue collar jobs are in a retail or industrial space of some kind (car repair or car factory) or are in the service or retail industry (people wearing uniforms at McDonald’s or an electronic shop). Many travel agencies look like retail shops, I I think that is a good example of the edge of this explanation. 

People who predominantly sit at a desk in a commercial space and move paper, information, or money are in an office, like a lawyer or an architect. These are commercial spaces. 

This is why banks refer to their public branches as “retail banking” - they are “shops” full of customer service agents talking to walk-in customers dealing with their checking account. Posters everywhere asking if you want a car loan. Their large corporate offices full of brokers, traders, IT people, loan officers and managers are commercial offices that handle the management of all of the paperwork and money generated by their retail division. 

An office is also a “home base” for a professional who does their work in the field. An estate agent meets all of these: 

-commercial setting
-moves paper and money
- office is a “home base” for their field activities. 

People who need a shop full of advertising to prospective clients (travel agency)  or specialty equipment to perform their duties in that location (hair dresser) is a shop. 

An estate agent spends their time at other locations. Their office is their “home desk.” hair dressers perform a service on a person in a building with specialty equipment (nail salons, dry cleaners, Etc) and a travel agency is full of millions of brochures and posters, waiting for prospective clients to call or come in. 

My friend is an electrical engineer. He is an industrial inspector and damage investigator. When a factory or a supermarket has an electrical issue (which happens due to age, animals, and lightning), he is under contract with the business to come out immediately 24/7 and inspect the damage and tell them how to repair the system. He also performs government required yearly tests of the breakers and earth-leakage and inspects the private transformers (the pole is the power company’s, but the transformer on the ground belongs to the factory) and write all the reports and submit the government forms. He has a tiny little office with a desk and a computer for writing his reports, and spends his free time watching sumo wrestling on TV there. Maybe he has a meeting with his client there to sign a contract (very rare) - but his job takes place elsewhere.  His little office is his “home base” for his professional job that predominantly takes place “in the field”.

My other friend has a auto glass repair shop. It is a small garage full of boxes of windshields and tubes of glue. People bring their cars there and he removes and replaces damaged glass. He wears a 1-piece mechanic’s jumpsuit.

Traditionally, any person who does field work or inspection involving reports and paperwork has an “office” where they take care of that - estate agents, soil & other field engineers, building inspectors, and the myriad of consultants out there. They are treated the same as lawyers and attorneys and other paper-pushers in having “an office”. 


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