Lift Attendants: A Dying Profession
Being a lift attendant (known as an elevator operator in the USA) is a profession as old as the lift itself. The job brings to mind the images of early and mid-century America, smart uniforms and a level of service that is lacking in the buildings of the 21st century. Today, you’d be very hard pressed to find one however as technology and society have moved on, as lifts are now safe, convenient and easy to use.
Though lifts of various kinds have been in operation since antiquity, the modern lift as we know it began back in 1853 when brakes were installed into the system. As lifts became a necessity with the emergence of high-rise buildings and skyscrapers in the early 1900s, complex lifts required the hiring of attendants. The role of a lift operator required a number of skills such as skillful control with a large lever which involved regulation of the lift’s speed, and the ability to time the lift’s movement so that if stopped parallel to intended floor. The lift also had to be aligned correctly to allow the safe entry and exit of its users, otherwise, it was prone to uncomfortable shaking. Control of the lift’s speed was also a key skill as was the safe opening and closing of its mechanical doors. It also included training in safety amongst other things.
What is often forgotten though is that the lift attendant often performed other social functions too, such as greeting customers, acting as a tour guide, and announcing product departments and special deals. In effect, the lift operator was a public relations person who represented the building or company and basically improved the customer experience. The helpfulness and smart attire of a lift operator also helped represent the values of the company or building while providing a human touch.
Like many dying professions, the decline of the lift operator as a profession was caused by technological change. Despite the other functions of the role, companies could no longer justify paying someone to operate a lift when it could be done with a touch of a button. Automatic control of the lift was first introduced in 1949 and the automatic door less than a decade later. Thankfully, many of the lift operators found jobs with the same company as service assistants which took advantage of the social skills they previously utilised.
Though you are unlikely to see a lift operator today around the south west of England (even in the south west’s tallest building), there are still some working. In New York, there are over 50 buildings that still employ them – mainly because the buildings are old and it is more financially worthwhile to continue to pay wages and the antiquated lift’s maintenance rather than spend a huge amount of money remodelling the whole building. There is also a culture of lift operators in parts of East Asia, where the profession is more common.
Euro lifts offer over two decades’ worth of expertise in designing, installing and maintaining lifts. A southwest based business, Eurolifts boast a team of highly experienced and qualified technicians that offer more than just passenger lift expertise – we also provide technical know-how with stair lifts, trolley lifts, platform lifts, wheelchair lifts, escalators, mobility aids and much more. Our dedicated staff of expert lift technicians can give you a service that is unmatched across the region. Feel free to get in touch with us on 01752 559000 or via firstname.lastname@example.org.