By Frederik Haentjens
Check out this timeline of how technology opened the doors for remote work and helped shape the virtual workplace we have today:
1975: The first “personal” computer is introduced. Employees are finally able to work remotely outside of the office and eventually get to take their work on-the-go with a laptop or tablet.
1990: The internet is born, and the World Wide Web helps connect remote workers with email and virtual office tools.
1990: The Federal government conducts a telecommuting study on 2,000 federal workers. People proved to be more productive, had a better quality of life and work-life balance, and cut both expenses and commuting time when telecommuting. Remote workers see these same benefits today.
1994-1995: Companies like American Express, IBM, and AT&T start allowing their employees to telecommute. With continued success, the idea quickly catches on and spreads.
1997: Google launches the powerful search engine we know today. Google Search breaks down barriers and creates a place where employers and employees can find each other no matter where they live. You can still locate remote work or workers anytime today, all from performing a simple Google search.
1999: Centralized project management tools like Basecamp (originally named 37signals) give both management and employees one centralized place to manage workflows remotely. This keeps everyone on the same page, despite living in different zip codes, so everyone’s on the same page when it comes to deadlines and open-ended projects. Over 100,000 companies still use this project management software.
2000: Wireless internet and broadband open the floodgates. Remote employees can finally work without being tied to a physical location for their ethernet internet connection. This also makes slow speeds from dial-up internet a bad memory of the past.
2002: LinkedIn launches and connects millions of professionals across the globe. You can still network with old friends or co-workers, reach out to potential employers, and follow your favourite companies to see what’s new on this professional platform boasting 562 million users across 200 countries and territories.
2003: A surge of remote workers inspires Skype, a better communication tool for virtual employees. This video conference software helps organizations maintain genuine face-to-face connections with employees even if everyone’s working remotely. It’s also used heavily in remote interviews to put a face and personality to each candidate behind the screen.
2004: Virtual meeting software GoToMeeting (GTM) helps employees “meet” in a virtual conference room to share presentations, files, and brainstorm together. GTM currently has 2 million active daily users.
2006: Time tracking software Toggl makes it easy for employees to submit timesheets without much effort. This helps remote workers track their work hours and get paid accordingly.
2009: Slack, which is also the fastest-growing business application in history, creates a way for teammates and managers to communicate from anywhere. Slack continues to be the glue holding entire remote teams together. It supports 8 million active daily users and has over 70,000 paying customers.
2012: Google introduces its suite of office tools and digital file storage, known as Google Drive. This becomes the modern-day workspace where employees, both in-house and remote, access important documents and files while also collaborating and giving feedback in real time.
2016: Dell reports an annual savings of \$12 million since expanding its telecommuting and remote work programs. Reports like these prove remote work is beneficial to employers just as much as remote employees.
2017: Major tech-heavy cities like Austin and San Francisco report 60% and 30% of their job offers went to remote workers, respectively. Now many employers would rather have access to top talent, even if it means going outside of their corporate zip code to do so.
2018 and Beyond: “4.3 million people currently work from home in the United States at least half of the time,” and this figure has grown 150% in the last 13 years. The future of remote work continues to explode, and the technology to support these needs only gets better.
2020: The newest technology apps, such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams, have enabled remote work to excel even further! These apps are making the lives of the new remote worker much easier by making everyday communications more accessible with features that make modern conference calls more efficient.
Let us know which technology advancements/events do you recognise, that had a direct impact on moving towards remote working.
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