The history of remote work can be traced back to the 1970s, when technological advancements made it possible for people to work from home or other locations outside of the traditional office setting.
One of the first examples of remote work can be found in the early days of telecommuting, which was pioneered by Jack Nilles, an engineer and researcher who coined the term “telecommuting” in the 1970s. Nilles envisioned a future in which people could work from anywhere, using technology to connect with colleagues and clients.
Jack Nilles is often credited with coining the term “telecommuting,” but he did not invent the concept of remote work. The idea of remote work has been around for decades, and many companies have experimented with various forms of telecommuting over the years. Nilles is known for his pioneering work in developing the technologies and processes that made remote work more feasible and accessible for companies and employees. He also helped to popularize the concept of telecommuting through his research and writing on the subject.
In the 1980s and 1990s, advancements in computer technology and the widespread availability of the internet made remote work more practical and feasible. Companies began to experiment with remote work arrangements, allowing employees to work from home or other locations, often using tools like email and video conferencing to stay connected with colleagues.
Some of the early adopters of remote work include IBM, American Express, and Xerox. IBM was an early pioneer of remote work in the 1980s, allowing some of its employees to work from home. American Express also began allowing its employees to work from home in the 1990s, while Xerox established a virtual workforce program in the early 2000s. Other companies that have embraced remote work in recent years include Dell, Amazon, and Salesforce.
IBM’s telecommuting history
IBM has a long history of allowing remote work, dating back to the 1980s. In the early days of remote work, IBM allowed some employees to work from home using basic technologies like fax machines and telephone lines. As technology evolved, IBM continued to invest in remote work infrastructure and tools, allowing more employees to work from home.
In the 1990s, IBM established a formal telecommuting program called “Telecommuting@IBM,” which allowed employees to work from home up to three days a week. The program was a success and helped IBM reduce its real estate costs, while also improving employee morale and work-life balance.
In the early 2000s, IBM began to shift its focus from telecommuting to “remote work,” which emphasized the use of technology to enable employees to work from anywhere, not just their homes. IBM developed a range of remote work tools and technologies, including videoconferencing, instant messaging, and collaboration software, that allowed employees to work together seamlessly from different locations.
Today, IBM has a large remote workforce, with more than 25% of its employees working remotely or from home. The company’s remote work policy is designed to be flexible and adaptable, allowing employees to work from home, on the road, or from anywhere with an internet connection.
Xerox’s virtual workforce
Xerox is another company that has a long history of allowing its employees to work remotely. In fact, the company has been experimenting with remote work arrangements since the 1970s, long before it became a common practice.
One of the earliest examples of Xerox’s virtual workforce is the “Electronic Work Station” (EWS) project, which was launched in the 1970s. The EWS was a network of computers that allowed Xerox employees to work from remote locations. This was a groundbreaking initiative at the time and paved the way for future remote work arrangements.
In the 1980s, Xerox introduced the “Virtual Office” program, which allowed employees to work from home using a personal computer, modem, and telephone. This program was initially designed for Xerox’s sales force, but it was eventually extended to other departments.
In the 1990s, Xerox continued to expand its virtual workforce by introducing new technologies and policies that supported remote work. The company developed a variety of software tools and communication platforms that allowed employees to work collaboratively from remote locations.
Today, Xerox continues to embrace remote work and flexible work arrangements. The company’s “Work from Anywhere” program allows employees to work from home or any other location that is convenient for them, as long as they have access to the necessary technology and resources. This program has been especially useful during the COVID-19 pandemic, as it has allowed Xerox employees to continue working while adhering to social distancing guidelines.
Staying home with American Express
American Express has been an early adopter of telecommuting and remote work. The company has offered flexible work arrangements to its employees for over two decades, starting in the mid-1990s. In 1997, American Express introduced its first formal telecommuting program, which allowed some employees to work from home up to three days a week.
Since then, the company has expanded its telecommuting program, allowing more employees to work remotely. In 2018, American Express reported that nearly 40% of its employees had flexible work arrangements, including telecommuting. The company also offers a variety of virtual work tools and technologies to support remote workers, such as video conferencing, collaboration software, and mobile apps.
American Express has cited several benefits of its telecommuting program, including increased employee productivity and engagement, reduced office space and overhead costs, and improved work-life balance for employees. The company has also been recognized for its commitment to workplace flexibility, receiving numerous awards and accolades for its telecommuting and flexible work programs.
Non-tech early adopters of work from home
While many of the early adopters of remote work were tech companies, there were also several non-tech companies that embraced the concept early on. Some examples include:
American Express: As mentioned earlier, American Express began experimenting with telecommuting in the 1970s.
Aetna’s work from home history
Aetna is a health insurance company that has a long history with work from home. In fact, Aetna has been offering its employees the option to work from home since 1993. This makes Aetna one of the early adopters of work from home.
Aetna started experimenting with work from home in 1985, when it allowed a small number of employees to work from home on a trial basis. The program was successful, and in 1993, Aetna launched its formal work from home program, called the “Aetna Telecommuting Program.”
Under this program, Aetna employees were able to work from home up to three days a week. The program was designed to help employees achieve a better work-life balance, reduce stress, and increase productivity. Aetna found that employees who worked from home were more productive, had higher job satisfaction, and were less likely to leave the company.
Over time, Aetna expanded its work from home program to include more employees and more flexible work arrangements. In 2015, Aetna announced that it would be offering all of its employees the option to work from home, in response to changing work trends and the need to attract and retain top talent.
Today, Aetna continues to offer its employees the option to work from home, and the company has developed a range of policies and practices to support remote work. Aetna has found that work from home is not only good for employees, but also good for the company, as it can reduce costs, increase productivity, and improve employee engagement and retention.
Working from home for Best Buy
Best Buy is a consumer electronics retailer that has embraced a flexible work policy for its employees, including work from home options. The company began experimenting with remote work in the early 2000s, and by 2005, it had established a formal program called “Results-Only Work Environment” (ROWE).
The ROWE program allowed employees to work from any location as long as they were meeting their goals and achieving their expected results. It was designed to offer greater flexibility and autonomy to employees while improving productivity and job satisfaction. The program was so successful that Best Buy reported a 35% increase in productivity and a 90% decrease in employee turnover.
However, in 2013, Best Buy discontinued the ROWE program in favor of a more traditional work environment. The decision was met with backlash from employees, who argued that the program had allowed them to achieve a better work-life balance and had increased their job satisfaction. Despite this, the company has continued to offer some work from home options for certain roles, particularly those that do not require in-person customer interaction.
Telecommuting at JPMorgan Chase
JPMorgan Chase has a long history of allowing employees to work remotely. The company began experimenting with telecommuting in the 1990s, and by the early 2000s, it had implemented a formal remote work program. In 2006, the company launched a pilot program that allowed employees to work from home up to two days a week, and by 2012, the program had expanded to include more than 30,000 employees.
In 2018, JPMorgan Chase announced that it would be expanding its remote work program even further. The company now allows employees in some roles to work from home on a permanent basis, and it has set a goal of having 10% of its workforce working remotely on any given day. The company has cited the benefits of increased productivity and employee satisfaction as the primary reasons for its continued investment in remote work.
However, it is worth noting that JPMorgan Chase has also been cautious about the potential risks associated with remote work. In 2021, the company announced that it would be implementing a hybrid work model, with employees splitting their time between the office and home. The company cited concerns about maintaining corporate culture and managing risk as the main reasons for the shift away from a fully remote workforce.
Procter & Gamble
Procter & Gamble (P&G) has been experimenting with remote work since the 1990s. In the early 2000s, the company began rolling out a telecommuting program, initially for certain employees in specific roles. Over time, the program expanded to include more employees across the organization, with a particular focus on allowing sales and marketing teams to work from home.
P&G’s telecommuting program was designed to give employees more flexibility in how they work, while also helping to reduce office expenses and minimize the company’s carbon footprint. The program was also seen as a way to attract and retain talent, by offering a more modern and flexible work environment.
However, in 2013, P&G announced that it was ending its telecommuting program, citing a need to improve collaboration and teamwork among employees. The move was controversial, and some employees expressed concern that it would make it harder for them to balance work and personal obligations.
Despite this setback, P&G has continued to explore new ways of working, including more flexible office spaces and new technologies that allow employees to work from anywhere. The company has also launched a new initiative called “P&G Ventures” that is focused on developing new products and services in partnership with entrepreneurs and startups
UnitedHealth Group (UHG) is a large health insurance and healthcare services company that has embraced remote work in recent years. The company has implemented a flexible work policy that allows eligible employees to work from home or other remote locations.
In 2018, UHG announced that it was expanding its work from home program to include more than 20,000 employees. This move was part of the company’s efforts to improve work-life balance for its employees and to help them be more productive.
UHG has also invested heavily in technology to support its remote work program. The company provides its employees with laptops, software, and other tools to help them stay connected and productive while working from home. In addition, UHG has established virtual training programs and online resources to help its employees learn new skills and stay up-to-date with industry developments.
Overall, UnitedHealth Group’s history with telecommuting reflects a commitment to innovation and flexibility in the workplace. The company has recognized the benefits of remote work for both employees and the organization as a whole and has taken steps to make it an integral part of its culture.
International Adopters of Work From Home
There are many international companies that have adopted work from home policies, but here are a few examples:
- Fujitsu: A Japanese multinational information technology company that has embraced telecommuting since the 1990s. In 2017, they announced that they would be expanding their work-from-home program, with a goal of having 30% of their employees telecommuting by 2020.
- Accenture: A global professional services company that has been a leader in remote work. They have over 500,000 employees worldwide, and have been promoting flexible work arrangements since the 1990s.
- Vodafone: A multinational telecommunications company based in the UK that has been at the forefront of the remote work movement. They have a flexible work policy that allows employees to work from home or other remote locations.
- Telstra: An Australian telecommunications and media company that has embraced remote work for many years. They have a flexible work policy that allows employees to work from home or other remote locations.
- Telenor: A Norwegian telecommunications company that has been promoting remote work since the early 2000s. They have a flexible work policy that allows employees to work from home or other remote locations.
Which company has the highest percentage of its staff working from home?
As of 2021, the highest percentage of employees working from home among Fortune 500 companies belongs to Salesforce. According to the company, as of February 2021, approximately 65% of their global workforce was working remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Salesforce, a cloud-based software company, has had a flexible work policy since its inception in 1999. The company has long encouraged its employees to work from home or anywhere that they can be most productive. Salesforce was one of the first tech companies to offer remote work options to its employees.
In 2016, Salesforce expanded its work from home policy by introducing “Work from Anywhere,” which allows employees to work remotely from anywhere in the world. The company also offers a variety of resources to help remote workers, including online training, access to company systems, and remote work guidelines.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Salesforce was quick to pivot to a remote work model to protect its employees’ health and safety. In May 2020, the company announced that it would allow its employees to work from home for the rest of the year, and in February 2021, Salesforce announced that it would permanently adopt a hybrid work model, allowing employees to work from home up to three days a week. The company has also invested in new technologies to help facilitate remote work, including virtual collaboration tools and videoconferencing software.
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