Although technology may be partly responsible for the surge in the number of people who now work at home, I also owe it in part to the recession.
I worked for a company that could no longer afford to operate as many office buildings. They encouraged employees to work out of home offices.
According to a recent article by CNN Money, work-from-home gigs have soared an incredible 41 percent in the past decade. They cited a U. S. Census Bureau report that showed 13.4 million Americans now work out of their homes.
Getting used to the trend
I laughed when a colleague of mine told me she didn't realize people at a business meeting could see her in her pajamas during an in-home virtual meeting. It may take a while for everyone to get up to speed on Skype and other tools used for communication. I don't think my company will enforce a dress policy for virtual meetings unless the meetings are with foreign dignitaries.
Earning a living at home
Many of my former coworkers lost their jobs during the recession. Interestingly, the majority of them began earning a living by writing and editing from home. On the downside, the competition has increased dramatically compared to 10 years ago so the pay rates are lower. In some cases, colleagues found full-time jobs with benefits. But in nearly all of the cases, they were told to telecommute most of the week. According to the report, 9.5 percent of workers work at home at least one day a week compared to 7 percent in 1999.
Having the best of both worlds
The report also revealed a wide range of pay for people who work out of their homes. People who work out of an office and home earn a median salary that is $20,000 more than those who work exclusively at home. One of my close friends works at home three times a week, but "hotels" at her office, which means she reserves a computer station to use for several hours or the day.
Transitioning back to the office
Although I'm sure it can be done, I imagine it would be incredibly difficult to go back to working in an office all day after telecommuting. I'm more creative and productive when I work in spurts. I sometimes feel inspired early in the morning before most people arrive at the office. Other times, I'm a night owl. As long as employers continue to receive the kind of quality they need from telecommuters, I think it's a trend that will continue even after the economy has recovered.
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