Since 2005, regular “work-from-home” workers have grown by 173%, and currently, about 24% of US workers employed full-time today did “some or all” of their work at home, a trend that has picked up steam the last five years because knowledge workers have been demanding flexible work schedules as a benefit and technologies have transformed the experience, making it more effective for all.
Organizations that have been ahead of the curve by implementing work from home policies years ago can attest to more productive teams, cost savings, better employee retention, and tapping a global talent pool. Remote work enthusiasts will rave about a better quality of life and well-being, the joy of zero commutes, seeing family more and boosts in productivity by controlling where and how they work.
Working from home isn’t new
The idea of remote work as we know it isn’t new. The pro & con camps have been debating the effects of telecommuting on workers, organizations, economic development, and traffic for over 50 years.
In 1973, NASA engineer Jack Nilles authored “The Telecommunications -Transportation Tradeoff: Options for Tomorrow”. At the height of the national energy crisis and OPEC’s oil embargo, Nilles proposed working from home as a solution to traffic gridlock as well as diminishing natural resources. Coining “telecommuting” as the idea of moving the work to the workers instead of moving the workers to work. He offered the first case study to review how adoption would impact management, productivity, costs and benefits, energy conservation implications, and public policy issues.
Without the hindsight of how the Internet, the personal computer, and the mobile phone would radically transform the workplace, Nilles brilliantly wrote that “either the jobs of the employees must be redesigned so that they can still be self-contained at each individual location, or a sufficiently sophisticated telecommunications and information storage system must be developed to allow the information transfer to occur as effectively as if the employees were centrally collocated.”
“Either the jobs of the employees must be redesigned so that they can still be self-contained at each individual location, or a sufficiently sophisticated telecommunications and information storage system must be developed to allow the information transfer to occur as effectively as if the employees were centrally collocated.”
Few jumped on the bandwagon, though some small experimenting in the 1980s saw companies like J.C. Penney allow its call-centre employees to work from home. At the end of the decade, the state of California commissioned a study on the potential costs and benefits of extending telework to state employees. The report deemed that, “Telecommuting, if it becomes widespread, can affect almost every aspect of contemporary life, from fundamental job patterns to the physical structure of communities, to broad-scale environmental changes such as global warming, to global economic competitiveness.” The report also stated that remote work, “enhances the quality of work-life for telecommuters, including those with disabilities,” and “Telecommuting more than pays its way … there are societal benefits as well.”
“Telecommuting more than pays its way … there are societal benefits as well.”
Who is most prepared to go full remote?
The last couple of weeks has seen remote work hit a new peak as companies are testing out new solutions and methods to adopt full-on remote for teams worldwide. But remote work has already been embraced by large portions of knowledge workers in certain areas more so than others. Organizations in these cities may have a leg up in implementing new ways of working and have a larger amount of teams with skills and habits to grasp going full remote in a short period of time.
Cities where over +60% of workers’ time is spent working remotely already. (Klaxoon Teamwork Tour Study 2019)
1. Austin – 31% (of workers spent +60% of time remotely)
2. Denver – 26%
3. Washington DC – 23%
4. Seattle – 22.7%
5. NYC – 22%