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Were We always bound to Work from Home?

Discover how in 2020, remote work became a necessitated reality for millions of people worldwide.
Man on His Computer

Since you are accessing this course, you are likely working or looking for work in the digital space.

In 2020, remote work became a necessitated reality for millions of people worldwide. Coronavirus pandemic can be considered one of the greatest global disruptions in labor history on par with colonialism, industrialization, advances in robotics, and the invention of Internet. This is not a trend; we are experiencing a profound before and after moment akin to the introduction of the printing press or the cotton gin. It is worth taking a moment to reflect on how we got here, where are we now and where could we go from here.

Well, we are online.

While we are online, there are many types of work that are impossible to perform remotely, from agriculture to healthcare, urban maintenance, and so on. They are increasingly referred to as “essential services”. For the purposes of this course, we focus on the so-called “office jobs” that allow a greater flexibility of location and schedule.

The concept of the office as a default business workplace has been losing its logistical and social appeal in the last decades. Cubicles came tumbling down as WiFi towers went up. Digitization of business communications made location of the parties involved increasingly irrelevant. While telecommuting has been a limited business practice since the 1970’s, it was the launch of job search engines in 1990’s that really shifted the workforce mobilization into higher gear. You could apply for any position from anywhere in the world… and get it! Outsourcing, gig economy, digital nomads: acceptance of remote employment accelerated proportional to internet accessibility. Recent survey of remote workers showed that over 90% of them had previously considered working remotely at least some of the time during their careers and over 90% of them would recommend this format to others [1].

Enter COVID-19.

What first appeared to companies and communities as a temporary restriction is turning into a call for a radical reimagination of the long-term approach to work. From job interviews and team building to contract negotiations and performance reviews, on-camera coworking is here to stay for the foreseeable future, if not for good. With major corporations, academic institutions and governmental agencies extending the remote working and learning mandate indefinitely [2], what we make of this massive social experiment is up to us. This could be a beginning of a beautiful new interconnected era. This class is created with that vision in mind.

Despite drastic the changes in context, the human and professional need to connect, brainstorm, pitch, convince and convert colleagues, clients and customers remains. Our everyday experience remains social and political. Even from the (dis)comfort of homes, coffeeshops and other locations, we must convey expertise and exercise professionalism.

References: 1. Buffer Analytics. State of Remote Work. Available from: https://lp.buffer.com/state-of-remote-work-2020 2. Joey Hadden , Laura Casado , Tyler Sonnemaker, and Taylor Borden “Major Companies That Have Announced Employees Can Work Remotely Long Term.” October 12, 2020. Available from: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/354872

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