Working from home is having a moment, with the number of telecommuting and freelance workers increasing dramatically over the last few years. There are many reasons for this increase, including access to faster telecommunications networks, more flexible working conditions, changing family dynamics, and cities choked with traffic. As workers across the Western world increasingly look to forgo traditional job sites in favour of virtual desks, let's take a look at some of the trends to look out for in 2018.
According to a report produced last year from Global Workplace Analytics and FlexJobs, the number of telecommuting workers in the US has increased by 115 percent over the last decade, with almost 3 percent of the total US workforce now working from home at least half the time. Australia and New Zealand have seen similar levels of growth, with the home-based workforce only likely to increase in future years as a result of changing work cultures and city congestion. As part of a wider urbanisation policy, perhaps a time will come when large employers will pay a CBD levy if their proportion of teleworkers is too low.
According to FlexJobs, the ten most popular remote jobs in 2017 were writers, consultants, customer service representatives, sales representatives, engineers, account managers, software developers, case managers, medical coders, and adjunct faculty members. While a range of career opportunities are available to remote workers, the five biggest job categories are healthcare, education, sales, information technology, and administration. Technology obviously plays a crucial role in remote work, with computers enabling instant communication and networking independent of geographic location.
Real-time communication networks have enabled people to work from home more easily than ever before, with telecommuters able to access collaborative cloud environments and freelancers able to speak directly to clients via Skype and other video conferencing apps. Co-working apps and shared virtual working spaces are not just a poor alternative to face-to-face communication - in many ways they're better. Working alongside other remote workers and entrepreneurs can boost creativity and morale, driving productivity and giving people new ideas for the future. Because these tools are not location dependent, it's possible to work with people from all corners of the globe.
Social media has a huge role to play in the work-from-home revolution, with professional networking likely to explode in coming years. From social networks like Facebook and Twitter through to professional apps like LinkedIn, there are more ways to stay in touch with colleagues than ever before. Along with the emergence of new technologies and urbanisation, changing family demographics are also a big factor in the growing remote work force. According to Sutton Fell from FlexJobs, "The middle class norm changed from one parent working and one staying at home to two working parents being more common and growth in single-parent families are big factors driving telecommuting to save time when and where you can."
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