Work at Home: The Future of Work

Most companies today are resorting to outsourcing work or allowing their employees to work off site. The main reason companies do this is to cut costs of operations and conform to the societal changes where employees and freelance workers tend to be more productive when they work in environments they are more comfortable in. If history and statistics are anything to go by, the next generation of work will not even require a desk! We see statistics come out every day about working at home and they all show one thing:  the way people work is rapidly changing and remote working is taking the mantle as the most deliberated and preferred way to work today.  Remote working has been proven to make workers more productive, more creative and even happier with their jobs. Companies realize this and are catching on, slashing their operation costs in the process and either outsourcing their tasks or necessitating employees to work at home.  This means companies can save costs on buildings and workspaces lower costs of insurance and paid vacations and more time for the employees to work rather than spend it in traffic. It is already established as a trend – more workers who get to work at home work at times when they are most productive.  According to a research by Citrix Systems early this year, the work at home ‘movement’ is picking up and based on a study on almost 2,000 senior IT decision makers in 20 countries, telecommuting and work from home is the future of working for several reasons.

  • Surveyed IT executives say that by the year 2020, there will be 7 desks for every 10 office employees.  Since by that time companies will have grown and there will be more work, it shows that more employees will be working off site or the work outsourced to freelancers.
  • In telecommuting-friendly countries such as the US, UK, Netherlands and Singapore, the ratio of desks for every 10 workers will be much lower – at 5 to 10.  Organizations realize that allowing employees to work from home or outsourcing their operations will ‘empower employees’ and will ‘accustom workers to be able to work from any environment’.
  • The study shows that 29 percent of workers in 2020 will be working remotely.  A majority of these, 68%, will be working from home, 12% from project sites and customer or partner premises and the rest from coffee shops and cafés, hotels, airports and on transit.  This trend is a reflection of what is already happening today.
  • About 24% of major companies have adopted work at home or mobile work styles.  Citrix says that ‘the fewer office-based employees trend and the increasing number of powerful mobile computing devices that allow easier access to corporate applications, data and services from a wide range of locations outside the office’ is growing in popularity and this number will stand at 85% by 2015.
  • The numbers also show that 96% of major organizations and companies are either contemplating or already implementing work at home work styles by redesigning their workplaces and work systems to be flexible and collaborative and training staff the benefits and to know how to use these systems.
  • 83% of the companies and organizations that were studied plan to allow employees to carry their own digital devices such as laptops, tablets and smartphones to and from work rather than work specifically on company or organization desktop computers.

One of the main considerations factored in by Citrix is the emergence of new technologies and computing systems and generational differences.

Key influences of future work at home

As the line of work and home diminishes by the day, Richard Donkin, a former Financial Times Columnist, says that people today do not stop living when they go off to work, and do not stop working when they get at home. The same technology has infiltrated work and life and in the end has unified the two.  In his column, Donkin lists a number of top reasons why the line between work and home life is fast disappearing, the top 5 including:

a) Demographics

Gone are the days when the term ‘work’ meant a cheerless, repetitive task with detestable co-workers in the same cubicle day in day out. Today, things are changing as people end to appreciate their jobs more and businesses flex their originally rigid and closed systems to ‘remove the discretion which allows people to use their initiative and impose personalities and job styles’ according to Donkin.

b) Health

According to the World Health Organization, diabetes-related deaths are going to rise by 50% in the next 10 years globally. Companies, aiming to save millions of dollars every year, work at allowing workers to work from home because workplace environments have been proven to increase stress and mental decline over time – the two major threats to productivity.

c) Technology

It all began with the desktop computer. Then the internet became more versatile, common and cheap.  Now, we have powerful laptops and tablet computers, wireless fast internet and widespread use of IT and computing systems in the workplace. Without these, the concept of work at home would be impractical. Technological advancement is what has revolutionized the work environment and is the driving force for work at home growth.

d) Generational change

The current crop of employees and workers in general are citizens who weaned on laptops, gaming consoles, Google and the internet in general. Their lives – social and study – revolve around computers. They are used to them and work better when their work involve working in T-shirts and jeans from the coffee shop. This crop of new generation workers exerts pressure to companies and organization to change how they work to meet the current societal demands.

The arguments for work at home, remote or telecommuting are strong. Companies are changing the way they work and work at home is the sure way to go.  Companies such as Google, which has been voted the most preferred company to work for, makes the workplace a lot like home and that is why it has grown to be one of the most profitable companies in the world.  By the year 2020, more than half the global workforce may be working remotely – at home specifically – it is just a matter of time.