Telecommuting, also called telework, teleworking, working from home, mobile work, remote work, and flexible workplace, is a work arrangement in which employees do not commute or travel to a central place of work, such as an office building, warehouse, or store.
The COVID-19 public health crisis is an extreme test of the necessity of many parts of our basic daily routine: commuting to the office, face-to-face meetings, and what it means to be a worker in the modern economy. With “social distancing” now an imperative in many places, employers’ transition to telework is poised to remake all of those assumptions, both for the current crisis and beyond.
Remote work can also help prevent the spread of illness, helping companies avoid lost productivity and protecting public health. For example, the outbreak of COVID-19 prompted many employers to shift to a remote work model for all employees possible in a bid to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
Remote work has gone from mainstream to rushing river. While the productivity boosts of working from home are getting press, as are the skill sets required to succeed in working from home, the movement is broader and growing faster than most realize.
Besides the homebound, remote work includes employees working outside the office several days a week from multiple locations, freelancers who permanently work from a variety of locations, the co-working-space crowd, and digital nomads (whom I’ll cover momentarily).
There are already hundreds of thousands of intelligent machines in our workforce. Despite the fear of a reduction in available jobs, machines open the door to new opportunities for workers. The robotic and A.I. fields require more workers to keep up with the recent spike in demand and as the use of machines increases across all industries, some low-skill jobs will be lost, however, they will be replaced with more high-level, skilled positions. More positions will open up that require training, experience, and the willingness to work with machines, not against them.