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Last Updated: Sunday, 6 January 2008, 15:54 GMT
Samuel Pepys 'was original teleworker'
By Martin Shankleman
Work correspondent, BBC News

His diaries provide an intimate glimpse of London 350 years ago, but there's an uncannily modern ring to one aspect of Samuel Pepys' life - his workday.

Samuel Pepys, pictured with historic papers chronicling his life
Samuel Pepys was hard-working but flexible, analysis reveals

Indeed, one leading expert, Frank Duffy, claims that Pepys enjoyed such freedom in his job as naval administrator, he was "like a modern teleworker".

Mr Duffy, an architect and academic, has analysed Pepys' work patterns.

He concludes that "Pepys was a very mobile person indeed, in terms of the geographical freedom in which he operated in London".

He would begin the day at his official home near the Tower of London, then typically go to his office next door.

He frequently had to travel to Deptford dockyard on naval business. But he would devote much of his time to visiting Whitehall, where he met his patrons and the aristocrats on whose influence his career depended.

In between appointments, Pepys met friends and colleagues in taverns and on the streets.

"He spent a lot of time eating and talking to people," according to Mr Duffy. "He worked extremely hard, but he was fluid and mobile in the way that teleworkers are in the 21st Century."

A study published by Microsoft last week said that staff should be allowed to work from their ideal location rather than endure the commute into work, as people do not have to be "chained" to their desks anymore.

A psychologist commented: "We can all complete work obligations without being in the office."

And ironically, that is precisely the freedom enjoyed by Pepys in the 1660s. According to Mr Duffy, there is "an interesting resonance between his career and pattern of work, as a high civil servant, where he enjoyed freedoms that are just now being made available to millions".


26 September 1660: Spends morning in office with Surveyor and Comptroller of Navy. Drinks a "cupp of Tee" for first time. Takes barge to Deptford dockyard to pay for ship. "At the Globe we had a very good dinner." Back by barge to City. Coach to Westminster to inquire on his Lord's health. Home by coach.

4 October 1660: Looked over papers in office alone. Visited by naval officer. "I took him along with me to a little alehouse" by the office.

15 March 1662: Went to Whitehall to wait on the Duke to get money for the Navy. Then back to the office. Went to the Royal Exchange to try and hire a ship. Lunch at home. All afternoon in office, writing business letters, home to bed.

24 November 1664: Spent morning in office answering people. Leaves at noon with Naval Commissioner to visit Coffee House, to drink "jocolatte" which was "very good". Coach to Westminster.

27 June 1666: Begins day at office. Then down river, to see vessels to transport troops to the fleet. Back to the office "for my papers". Then to St James Palace to see Duke of York, King's younger brother.

Mystery of Pepys' affair solved
14 Oct 06 |  Leicestershire
Historic Pepys papers uncovered
10 Apr 03 |  Cambridgeshire

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