Work From Home – Are we returning to the pre-industrial family?

Work From Home – Are we returning to the pre-industrial family?

When Illinois resident Bruce Merevick, a former senior principal consultant realized his job was physically and emotionally taxing, he moved into a technical consultant role, albeit with a pay cut. But the biggest perk of his new job – working from home. His life changed for the better, he says in an interview with The New York Times. I have a real chance to reconnect with my community. Like Bruce, many Americans are switching to jobs that allow them to work from home. A recent online survey found that 31 percent of participants preferred working from home to being holed up in a cubicle. Nearly half of those polled believe working from home will be the norm in the future, which begs the question: Are we going back in time?

Traveling through time: Work in the pre-industrial era

If you paid any attention in history class at school, you may be aware of the work culture in pre-industrial times. Before the dawn of the Industrial Revolution in the 1700s, work was simpler and group-based. Where did people work? Not in plush offices (or the equivalent of those days!) that are synonymous with the work culture of today, but at home and with their families.

The work of those times are proof of this, according to a Bellarmine College article on pre-industrial society; families worked together. The children of working families assisted with smaller chores- boys and girls being given roles according to their strength, says an essay titled ‘The Lives of Pre-Industrial Workers’ by Penn State University. Work that the parents undertook was often inherited by the children. In addition, workers in pre-industrial times worked fewer hours than the workers of today, according to an excerpt on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology website taken from The Overworked American: The Unexpected Decline of Leisure by Juliet B. Schor.

The mechanization of the Industrial Revolution drove many to leave their homes to work in centrally-located factories, giving rise to the practice of gathering workers together at one place. This practice has been carried forward and is part of the mainstream work culture in almost all companies today.

Telecommuting: The future of work is here

In an increasingly mobile world, people successfully working from home have broken the myth that workers have to be present and in one location. But, it’s not an option for all jobs.  In manufacturing for instance, jobs require workers to be on-site, but employees in desk jobs now have choices offering increased flexibility.

Working from home may be reminiscent of the pre-industrial era, but it has evolved over the years. Working from home, or telecommuting as it’s commonly called, is in high demand- a Global Workplace Analytics survey revealed that a whopping 79% of employed Americans would like to work from home, at least part time. Our survey showed that 14 per cent of those polled had work-from-home jobs. So what makes telecommuting futuristic?

In our modern, time-constrained society, telecommuting offers a glimmer of hope. According to a a Forbes report by Holly Reisem Hanna, founder of The Work at Home Woman, the biggest benefits of a work from home job are flexibility, cost savings and health benefits, in addition to time with family. The process of landing a work from home job is easier now that both jobs and training are available online. For example, if you look for a medical transcription or computer technician job on websites like FlexJobs, training for these jobs is available at recognized online institutes like Career Step. Distractions don’t seem to deter employees from choosing to work from home – 36% think they can work at home efficiently. Add environmental benefits to the list in the form of conserving fuel and what we have is progression towards a greener planet.

What makes working from home the possible norm of the future is not just its flexibility, but the ability to place autonomy in the hands of a worker. It’s not a new invention but a familiar practice. That makes the work concept a winner! Millennials definitely crave for that kind of independence, says a USA Today report.

Will working from home completely dethrone the traditional office setup? Only time will tell. Will it be the norm of the future? Many certainly think so. For now, advanced technology and our need to have more flexibility and independence in our jobs is giving workers the ability to adopt some of the practices of our pre-industrial ancestors.  But, we’re not completely independent as noted in a Wall Street Journal report of monitoring devices and instant communication applications used by some companies to keep track of employees working from home. A fusion of an old concept with new technology – we’re definitely going back to the future![credit name=”NotarYES” nurl=”″ via=”shutterstock” vurl=”” license=”TOS” lurl=””]


Ajna welcomes guest blogger Frida Cooper:

Frida has been working as a career guidance counselor for about 12 years. She’s stayed on top of growing industry trends through market research and interaction with young students and working professional alike. Her hobbies include swimming, meditation and music. She believes that everyone can enjoy a lucrative career by paying close attention to their passions and aptitudes. Of late, Frida has been focused on researching work-from-home opportunities for stay-at-home moms or professionals who would like to supplement their income.

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