Familiar with the history of working from home? Not many people are because it started long before the invention of the Internet. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, many craftsmen worked out of their homes. From sewing clothing to making yarn, their trades were done inside their homes. Even though it’s very different from remote work today, you could say that was the first attempt at working from home!
Of course, these attempts grew more reliant on technology as the world changed. When the Industrial Revolution hit, the working world changed. Now, employees were expected to work outside the home, often in a conventional 9-to-5 shift. That’s likely the work model you’re familiar with. In the early 20th century, as telephones and telegrams enabled speedy communication, offices began to change even more.
In 1973, with oil crises driving up the cost of commuting, the idea of remote work began to take root. While the idea wouldn’t gain much ground until the advent of the Internet, the concept of telecommuting was appealing given the rising cost of gasoline at that time.
Telecommuting at the time–which meant landline phone calls, mailing documents through the postal service, and other practices that might seem outdated–was clunky. It also uncovered many of the same issues that employers have with remote work these days and teleworking. How do you know if employees are really working? How will meetings happen? Can anything really replace being able to call across the office with a question? These questions, especially in the age of the socially distanced work environment, are increasingly relevant.
In the first decade of the new millennium, from 2000 to 2010, remote work skyrocketed. Finally, technology and Internet speeds could keep up with the idea. People were able to email files, do video calls, and more. This laid the groundwork for the stunning telecommunication advances in the last decade. Now, if you enable it, your boss can tell if you look away from your computer screen for more than a few seconds. They can track how much time you spend on each task, and what web pages you’re on.
With all these advancements, telecommuting isn’t that much different from working in an office. You can still work off lightning-fast WiFi, and likely take your computer home and use it. With better technology, bigger monitors, and faster working speeds, you won’t be slowed down at all.
Working from home still requires collaboration with others, though. That’s why conferencing developments have been so important. No need to dial into a conference call through your landline! Instead, you can use video conferencing platforms like Zoom or Skype to get the job done.
Nowadays, home offices are increasingly commonplace. Even if you spend forty hours a week in the office, you may need to take a project home. If you have a sick day, you can probably get a few things done from your home office, too. With technology making it available, millions of people transitioned to this model during the COVID-19 epidemic. Due to necessity, the workforce is changing. Now, many new hires are being offered remote positions.
While it’s a different working world to adjust to, it’s made much easier by the technology that’s available. Who knows--working from home might be your favorite adjustment yet.