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How Working from Home Became a Trend: A Historical Perspective on Remote Work

Remote work, telecommuting or working from home, has become a popular concept in modern times due to the changing nature of the workforce and the advancements in technology. The idea of being able to work from anywhere at any time has become a game-changer for many employees, and employers have responded by embracing remote work as a trendy way to meet organizational goals.

In this blog post, we will take a historical perspective of remote work, taking you through the evolution of telecommuting, the impact it has had on the workplace and how it has become a trend. We will also explore the challenges and opportunities associated with remote work, particularly in the age of technology-driven business operations.

The Early Days of Remote Work

The concept of telecommuting first appeared in the 1970s as a term used to refer to making and receiving phone calls from home. It was not until the 1980s that the term remote work replaced telecommuting, with more people working from home, thanks to advances in technology.

Back then, only a few people worked from home, and it was mostly mothers who preferred to stay at home and raise their children while still earning an income. However, as technology evolved and workplaces became more demanding, working from home became more accessible to a wider range of people.

Throughout the 1980s, many companies started exploring the idea of telecommuting, and some even piloted remote work programs. IBM was one of the first companies to implement a remote work program in 1983, with around 2,000 employees participating. The program was such a success that by 1989, IBM had saved over $100 million in real estate, office space and travel expenses.

With the success of IBM’s remote work program, other companies started to follow suit, and remote work gained more popularity throughout the 1990s. According to a survey conducted by the International Telework Association and Council in 1997, there were an estimated 5.5 million people in the United States working from home.

The emergence of Digitalization and Remote Work

The emergence of digitalization in the early 2000s made remote work even more accessible to more people. High-speed internet, laptops, smartphones and other digital tools made it possible for people to work from anywhere in the world.

In 2005, Yahoo became one of the first companies to scrap its remote work program, calling remote work “not productive” and “unhealthy.” This decision was widely criticized, with many experts arguing that it was a step backward for the industry.

Despite Yahoo’s decision, remote work continued to gain popularity in the following years, with many companies embracing the concept of distributed teams. Today, it’s common to see companies with teams spread out across different cities, states and even countries.

The Impact of Remote Work on the Workplace

Remote work has had a significant impact on the workplace, changing the way we work and interact with colleagues. Here are some of the ways remote work has impacted the workplace:

  1. Increased Flexibility: Remote work has given employees more flexibility in their work schedules, allowing them to work from home, coffee shops, or anywhere they choose.
  2. Increased Productivity: Many studies have shown that remote workers are often more productive than their office-based counterparts, thanks to fewer interruptions, less commuting time, and a more comfortable work environment.
  3. Improved Work/Life Balance: Remote work allows employees to better balance their work and personal lives, reducing stress and improving overall wellbeing.
  4. Reduced Overhead Costs: Remote work can save companies a significant amount of money on real estate, office space, and other expenses associated with maintaining a physical office.
  5. Access to Global Talent: Remote work allows companies to access talent from anywhere in the world, breaking down geographic barriers to recruitment and widening the talent pool.

However, remote work is not without its challenges. Loneliness, lack of social interaction, and the blurring of work-life boundaries are some of the downsides of remote work that companies and employees need to address.

The Future of Remote Work

As technology continues to evolve, remote work is expected to become even more popular in the coming years. With advancements in communication tools, such as video conferencing and virtual reality, working from home will become even more seamless and accessible.

There is no doubt that remote work will continue to be a trend that shapes the future of work. In fact, a recent report by Buffer on The State of Remote Work 2020 indicates that almost all employees (98%) want to work remotely, at least part of the time, for the rest of their careers. This reinforces the fact that remote work is not just a trend but rather the future of work.

However, this shift towards remote work will not be without some challenges. As we face the era of technology-driven businesses, remote work faces threats to privacy, security and data control. As the number of remote work arrangements surge, the need for secure and specialized software and hardware technologies will become even more important.


Working from home has come a long way since the 1970s, and it has become a trend that is here to stay. With the benefits of flexibility, increased productivity, access to global talent, and improved work/life balance, remote work has proven to be an effective way of working that benefits both employees and companies.

As we move towards a more digitalized world, remote work will become even more popular, making it one of the most significant paradigm shifts in the history of workplaces. Companies and employees need to be proactive in addressing challenges associated with remote work, including cybersecurity and data management.

As the world embraces a technology-driven future of remote work, companies need to design specific software and hardware technologies that protect sensitive data and users. The future of remote work promises to combine convenience, flexibility and improved productivity, enabling workers to lead happier, healthier and more balanced lives.

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