For most people, the story of our lives has been going to work from nine to five. For some, it is no longer a satisfying way to live. Others, such as elderly, handicapped, or parents with small children find it difficult or not feasible to work away from home. Until recently, there haven’t been other viable options.
In these days of desire to say goodbye to a daily commute, dead end jobs and office politics, working from home and shortening our commute to a minute or less has been discovered by an increasing number of people. According to repeated surveys, one in three workers would prefer to earn their living at home. In the 1980s there were approximately six million home offices. That number has grown to nearly 32 million in the 90s, according to Business Week.
Working from home is actually not a new concept. In the Middle Ages, European Merchants located their shops on the main floors of their homes. That mixture of work and home migrated to America. Paul Revere, for example, did his silversmithing in front of his home in Boston.
In the late 1800s, however, the Industrial Revolution’s demand for workers drew people from their homes to staff factories and offices. Now, as the wheels of time turn and history repeats itself todays information-centered society has opened many opportunities for people to work at home, with or without a computer.
One type of person with a home office are being called After Hours Workers, because these corporate employees bring their work home after normal working hours. A recent Forbes magazine poll of five hundred chief executive officers revealed that the majority expects that their subordinates put in more hours than they did just ten years ago. The result is an epidemic of over-stressed survivors of down-sized corporations, looking for another way of living and working.
According to surveys, over eight million employees now work at home during normal business hours. These people, called Telecommuters, have become the fastest growing work from home population of salaried employees. Low-Tech organizations are using these new work options, as well. You no longer need to use a computer or work in a high tech field.
Another result of corporate mergers and down-sizing is the need for part-time or freelance consultants, researchers, and designers. This brought about the beginnings of companies such as Manpower, which is the nations largest employer of freelance, part-time, and contract workers.
Middle class Americans are choosing to leave the crowded cities and suburbs and make new lives in small towns and rural areas. This has brought about the need for relocation consultants. The computer and improving communications technology offer jobs to those who cannot work outside of the home due to physical or family limitations. Jobs such as music proofreader for the Library of Congress, word processing for American Express, Computer Graphics, and Web Design.
Working from home holds promise for having meaningful work and more time with family and loved ones. The potential rewards are great, is it right for you?
When you venture into working from home, familiar routines seem to blur and disappear. You get up in the morning and you don’t have to be anywhere. Do you get dressed? When do you start working? Do you work at your desk or the couch? In every case, it’s up to you. The whole experience is different from everything we’re used to. Some people flourish with the newfound freedom from old structures, while others struggle.
For those with creative minds, working from home can be the ticket to realizing their potential. For single parents, and many women, working at home still means juggling family and career. It’s a step towards goals of financial independance. It’s a door to self-sufficiency and a productive future. Working from home can be the answer to many dreams. How about yours?