Working from home has been an unexpectedly popular trend in the last three years. Stopping coronavirus and returning to everyday life relied on undertaking safety measures such as working from home. It was a necessary precaution to protect the health of our loved ones.
However, now that many countries are out of lockdown and moving to the future, it’s vital to assess the trend and its direction. Many employers and employees see the benefits of working from home firsthand and are reluctant to let go.
In this article, we will track the history of remote working, how it progressed, and consider what its future is in this post-pandemic world. Coronavirus is the past, but many are still clinging to the changes it brought about, and it’s important to consider how this will affect how the world operates in the future.
How Did Working From Home Begin?
Since the 1970s, working from home has been an option. Manufacturers have been mass-producing computers, making them available to offices and the home. As a result, many people found that gradually, this technology was accessible so they could perform their jobs in a satellite office and, soon, at home. However, the connection was not entirely made until Jack Nille wrote The Telecommunications-Transportation Tradeoff in 1976.
This book boasted the ways that companies could implement satellite offices and the benefits of them. When companies tested these ideas, they saw employees performed better and were more productive overall. Over time, these tests extended to the home, where employees began to perform their work duties at home if needed.
How Has Working From Home Changed?
At first, working from home was a choice for employers and employees. It became very popular, leading to growth in technologies that facilitated working from home structures. However, the coronavirus pandemic hugely spurred on the working from home trend. This led to a complete change in how businesses operate.
Each country reacted differently to coronavirus, initiating different protocols and adhering to different timelines. This had a significant impact on how countries managed working from home. For example, China was one of the first countries to initiate localized lockdown protocols. Therefore, they were one of the first countries to start working from home and end it.
During the lockdown, a UK study showed that 54% of workers remained at home continuously. Considering that many essential workers had to go into workplaces throughout the pandemic, this is a huge percentage. Working from home became a norm for many people and still is today.
Many companies are slowly moving back to the office, but remote working is still popular. 92% of people expect to work at least one day a week from home and keep up some semblance of remote working. Coronavirus has formed a love child called hybrid working, the best of both worlds.
Why Has It Remained A Popular Choice?
Some countries, particularly in Europe and the US, enforced longer lockdowns than countries like the UK. The UK used sporadic lockdowns and periods of ‘normal’ working. As a result, some countries relied on employees working from home for longer. Overall, working from home was well received. It offered many benefits to both employers and employees with different lifestyles, so it remains a popular choice still.
For employers, working from home can cut various costs and boost productivity. Working from home reduces the need for large office spaces, allowing employers to reduce their office space and save money on rent and running costs. Many employers also noticed an increase in productivity, which increased the workload completed on an average day.
Employees benefit hugely from working from home no matter their home life situation. For all employees, working at home can make life easier and reduce costs. They will no longer have to pay fees for transportation that can eat into their monthly budget. As well, they are likely to eat healthier meals as they have easy access to their kitchens to cook their meals.
For families, working from home makes a world of difference. Employees will have more flexibility in managing childcare as they can easily drop their children at school or nursery. Working from home remains a popular choice because it enhances performance for employers and provides flexibility to the lives of employees.
What Is Its Future?
Now that the coronavirus pandemic seems to be calming down and many countries are removing their restrictions, it leaves working from home in an unknown position. Many companies are unsure what to do: whether to keep workers remote, at the very least partially, or to return to ‘normal’ office working.
In 2022, most survey respondents were still working from home, but a third expected to return to the office this year. Working from home is steadily reducing in some industries due to the additional expenses incurred. To facilitate working from home, companies need to provide hardware, software, and any other provisions required to perform their job.
These provisions can incur additional fees that some employers do not see outweighing the benefits. However, employees do not seem to feel the same. A study in 2021 showed that 48.4% of workers felt the opportunity to work remotely was a very important thing to consider when looking for jobs.
Since employees have gotten a taste of remote working, many have preferred it and adjusted their job searches based on it. The opportunity to work remotely is a huge bonus for many prospective employees, but not all companies offer the option.
Across the world, 16% of companies operate entirely remotely, while 44% offer no remote work options. These statistics are not proportional to employees’ desire to work remotely. Overall, the future of working from home and the work from home trends seems unsure as employers and employees are at odds with what they want.