Just a few decades ago, the only people who worked from home were self-employed, and the kinds of jobs you could do from home didn’t offer many options. You could write or create things in a personal workshop, but if you wanted a steady company job you’d have to go to their office to perform it and often move halfway across the country in the process.
However, modern computers, mobile technology, and the internet have all made telecommuting and working from home much easier. More employees can perform their office jobs from home, and self-employed people have more job options available. There are a few different technologies that have made this possible, and each one has made it easier to work remotely.
More than anything else, high-speed internet has been the real game changer. Back when home computers and online connections were first showing up in homes, you could only send short messages in text only, but at this point you can stream high-definition and 4K videos in real time, you can have a real-time conversation with coworkers, and you can send important documents and files across the world in a matter of seconds. Without this transfer speed, working at home would be nearly impossible.
Video and Audio Call Software
Programs and apps like Skype, FaceTime, and Discord allow users to create groups and communicate with each other in all kinds of ways. You can chat with text messages and share links to uploaded documents, you can make audio calls so you can hear each other, and you can use webcams to have the kind of video calls that have been in science fiction stories for decades. Video calls let you see and speak with coworkers and bosses, making them essential if you want to keep in touch with the people you’re working with.
Image via Flickr by Cebolledo
The rise of the online cloud has made it easier to share files and information between two locations using a secure connection. Companies tend to be very wary of letting random home computers access their private servers, but the best cloud servers come with technology and features that let them stay secure even as thousands of users access the information they store at any one time. This means companies are more willing to let employees work from home even if they work on sensitive projects.
Image via Flickr by wuestenigel
Smartphones may be the single biggest technology revolution of the past decade. They combine the communication of a cell phone, the functions of a PDA, and the entertainment of a digital audio player, making them good for bringing on any kind of trip no matter where you’re going or how long you’ll be out. A powerful smartphone like the LG G6 from T-Mobile is especially handy; the Android OS offers lots of customization, the modern design gives you plenty of processing power and storage space, and the pre-loaded apps have lots of business-friendly applications.
Time and Productivity Tracking
One of the big reasons why companies haven’t gone to a remote workforce overnight is because it’s hard to track how productive and dedicated your workers are when they’re hundreds of miles away. For some jobs it’s easy; set a deadline and then wait for your employees to meet it. However, not every project is straightforward, and many times it’s impossible to reach a deadline because of unexpected problems. These problems are easy enough to explain in person, but from a remote worker they can sound more like excuses.
That’s why companies with remote workers use software that can track time spent working and relative productivity. These programs can use a connected camera to make sure the worker is paying attention during work hours, or they can track how much time a worker spends interacting with company systems.
Communication technology has shot ahead in the past 20 years, so it’s no wonder that a growing number of people can make a living without leaving their homes. Whether you work for a single tech company or you sell your creations to an international online audience, today’s technology is making the remote worker population boom.