Is The Briefcase Dead?  

Is The Briefcase Dead?  

Is the briefcase dead, or has it evolved? That’s today’s question.  

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The timeless look of the 1950s businessman would be incomplete without a professional leather briefcase in hand. He struts into the office, confident in his classic suit, carrying important documents concealed in the confines of the briefcase. What is it about this pack that characterizes the businessman and asserts his authority? And where did it go?  

When I left school to join the workforce, I imagined myself taking on the role of the traditional businessman, or rather a businesswoman, and continuing the tradition of carrying the iconic briefcase. Nevertheless, this was not the case. Aside from the stockbrokers on Wall Street and those who still value traditional work attire in the modern workplace, I’ve seen very few leather briefcases, or any briefcases for that matter! What happened to them? Did we discard the old to usher in the new? Is the briefcase gone forever or has it simply taken on a new shape?  

To answer these questions, we must recognize the difference between fashion and function.   

The bags we choose to carry our belongings in and most importantly, our technologies, tend to fall into these two categories. The trendy fashionista prefers a bag made from a bold fabric, with stylish accessories, that may even pass as a purse outside of work. On the other hand, those more occupied with the functionality of their satchels value the ways their bag accommodates their needs and resolves potential problems for the future.  

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For example, my workbag carries on the tradition of the leather work bag, but with a more stylistic twist. It looks a little something like this, black in color with cute accessories on the handles and a cross-body strap for additional styling options. The bag contains a laptop compartment in the middle, which makes it much easier to carry my laptop to and from work seamlessly, and without compromising my outfit and its accessories. In this case, the bag becomes the accessory, minus sacrificing what I need from a work bag. 

 However, not everyone has the same priorities or tastes as TechBarbie. According to one of our stellar solutions architects, function reigns supreme. For him, the most crucial factor in his decision-making when it comes to choosing the right work bag is whether the bag is waterproof.   

The truth is that most technology we use is, in fact, not waterproof or even water-resistant in many cases. He recalls a story of getting caught in a downpour with a simple cotton backpack that was not waterproof, and as a result, allowed his laptop to be affected by the water. Thankfully, due to preventive measures such as regular backups on his part, his data was recovered, but if he hadn’t been so well-prepared he could have lost not only his device but all the information on it too.   

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For this reason, he now carries either a small waterproof sling bag to carry devices like a tablet, or a heavy-duty waterproof backpack to carry larger devices safely and securely from one destination to the other. To some, this may seem like an unnecessary precaution to take, but if your job requires you to carry technology with you on the go, an unexpected rainstorm could mean damage to a lithium battery. This can cause your technology to short circuit, or worse, cause a fire.     

Circling back to the question that started it all, is the briefcase dead? Did we kill it?  

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Well, not knowingly. In the same way that the technologies we used 50 or 70 years ago have continued to evolve and change, the items we use to carry them follow suit. So, we don’t all carry around a leather briefcase. We don’t all carry around a leather tote bag. And we don’t all select the waterproof option for our work bag.   

The common denominator between fashion and function is that it’s constantly changing! What’s in style one decade will undoubtedly be replaced by the next best thing or the hottest new trend in the next one. The functionality that products bring to our lives is reimagined by every generation to meet the latest needs of that time. Particularly in the 1950s, the average businessman was forced to carry a lot more hard copies and paperwork compared to the average worker today. Everything has been converted into digital copies, accessible anywhere. However, this introduces a whole new set of questions and concerns to be addressed. Now instead of worrying about how we’ll keep our contracts and documents neat and organized in one place, we must adapt to meet the demands of our technologies, keeping them dry and secure in our work bags.   

In simple terms, the idea behind the briefcase is alive and well, although it takes on a wide range of shapes and sizes today.   

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