Nomad Lifestyle

The Evolution of Remote Work

Cubicles to Couches

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Madison Coleman

Nomad Lifestyle Editor | Digital Marketing Associate

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Kaimen Brasher

Digital Marketing Intern | The New Nomad Producer

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Remote Work is the Future

The post-pandemic years have shown the very real possibility of working fully remote from home, while still keeping up with the demands of the job. While this has become more and more common over the past few years, where did the concept of remote work begin?

We have seen major spikes of remote and hybrid work lately, but this concept is not as new as one might think. Pre-industrial revolution, working from home was the norm. Getting together in groups to work was not as common as it was in the 20th century. Much like the shift in work in 2020, the industrial revolution altered the way people thought about work. Instead of working individually, cubicles, commutes, and corporations came into the picture.

The digital revolution sparked another cultural shift regarding the thoughts and opinions about work. This created a new level of connectivity that allowed people and companies to work from various places in the country, and even world.


So, what are the origins of remote work and how did we get to where we are today?


Origins: A History of Telework

Telecommuting is the practice of working from home by use of the internet, email, and phone. Due to the recent boom in remote work, many might be led to believe this is a recent concept, but in reality, telecommuting
has been around for quite some time.

This phrase was first coined by NASA engineer Jack Nilles in 1972 as he was working remotely on a complex communication system for NASA, and the term stuck. He believed this new way of work could save time, energy,
and effort for the working class and solve other problems such as traffic and use of nonrenewable resources.

A few years later in 1979, Frank Schiff wrote a popular article called “Working at Home Can Save Gasoline” that begin to popularize the idea of remote work. The article states that millions of Americans commute to and from work via car or bus five days a week. The result is high levels of gasoline being consumed, traffic, pollution, and can lead to mental and physical stress of commuters. This sparked the idea that working from home
could solve many issues for both the employer and employee, which led to the first conference about remote work in 1980.


These two telecommuting events help spark the rise of remote work as we know today. Starting from humble beginnings, remote work has grown to millions employees working from home every day.


The Shift From Cubicles to Couches

Fast forward to the late 20th century, technology has greatly improved and come to challenge the mundane 9-5 office job ruling much of the working class around the world. With the internet and personal computing devices storming onto the scene, the shift from the cubicle to the couch had officially begun, not only shifting where you work, but even how you work.

The early 2000s showed that telecommuting was a viable alternative to the traditional office setup. With the adoption of high-speed internet, email communication, and collaborative platforms, employees were no
longer bound to desks to accomplish their professional tasks. This opened the door for employees to stay connected with their team, while doing so from the comfort of their own home.

This has since then extended beyond a nice perk and a convenient thing to do, to a benefit sought after by many employees. More than ever, employees value a work-life balance, and remote work paves a great way for employees to accomplish their professional tasks while being able to control their working environment. Many studies even show that remote work improves productivity and innovation and keeps the employees more
motivated and satisfied with work.

The History of Remote Work - Pane 2

The Future of Remote Work

Thanks to the tech boom, remote work is now more accessible for the everyday employee. Laptops, smartphones, tablets, and video calls have all taken remote work from a luxury of the few to the reality of many. Now, anywhere that has Wi-Fi has the opportunity to become your new virtual workspace.

There are also many team collaboration sites, tools, and apps to connect workmates from anywhere in the world. Video conferencing platforms, like Zoom and Teams, has made face to face connectivity a possibility in a virtual world. Connecting with team members through voice and video has revolutionized virtual teamwork. Instead of cold emails and phone calls, video conferencing allows team members to connect more personally than ever before.

Niluka Kavanagh, who left her corporate job at KPMG in order to work from anywhere and go into the entrepreneurship space comments: ‘The future of work has changed. People have realised that we no longer have to choose between career and travel. You can design a career on your terms. This presents huge opportunity for those willing to take it’. Niluka talks about this journey on her YouTube channel and most recently has started to help others gain remote freedom by helping them launch an online business.

Niluka Kavanagh - Insured Nomads article

Globalization: Bridging Borders in the Remote Era

Not only do local and national companies benefit from these digital evolutions, but globalization has also been impacted greatly by remote work. In the pre-remote era, globalization was reserved only for the elite companies of the world. Now, globalization is a reality that many companies can work towards with the hand of technology.

In the early 21st century, companies discovered the potential of tapping into a diverse array of skills and perspectives from various parts of the world. Companies no longer have to hire someone who lives in close proximity to the office, but a company in New York can now hire someone from London or Bangkok. Companies can access a broader talent pool, bringing in individuals with unique cultural insights and expertise. Simultaneously, employees enjoy the opportunity to work for international companies without the need for relocation, fostering a global mindset among professionals.

However, even with incredible advantages of a global workforce, there are many complications to manage. Time zone differences, cultural norms, and varying workplace practices all can be challenges that have required modern solutions. Companies embracing global remote work must understand these difficulties and ensure employees that their wellbeing is of top priority.

The Remote Work Job Board: A Passport to Global Careers

In the ever-expanding landscape of remote work, the remote work job board has emerged as the roadmap guiding professionals to an international career form the comfort of their couch. These job boards have redefined the job search for freelancers looking for their next gig to the unsatisfied cubicle employee looking for their escape.

Online platforms like We Work Remotely, Remote Rebellion, Jobgether, Remote Talent by Remote and FlexJobs are making it easier for remote job seekers to find a community that suits their ideal lifestyle.  From marketing associates, full-stack engineers, C-suite executives, and even virtual physicians, there is room for every remote worker to find their passion, while making time for the perfect work-life harmony.

“I’m a firm believer in the transformative power of remote work. It’s more than a convenience; it’s a game-changer in the modern workforce. Embracing remote work means championing flexibility and innovation, allowing for a better balance between our professional and personal lives. Remote work allows companies to reach a broader talent pool. Such inclusivity not only drives growth but also opens doors to expansive business opportunities, marking a significant stride in organizational development. ” – says Lucía Sánchez-León of Thaloz

Navigating this virtual landscape has to be met with a strategic approach. Job seekers tread cautiously as they vet through numerous employers for company culture, communication practices, and remote work policies. Employers also have to create enticing listings that stand out from the crowd of other eager employers. This has shifted the job hunt from the best opportunities in your area, to the best opportunities in the entire world.

Thaloz Team - Insured Nomads article

Co-Working: Beyond the WeWork Dynasty

With the rise of remote work, co-working spaces stand as dynamic hubs, offering remote professionals an alternative to traditional office spaces. While WeWork once dominated the space, its rise and fall opened the door to a broader exploration of co-working spaces worldwide.

WeWork’s journey from a co-working unicorn to a cautionary tale has not eclipsed the co-working landscape. Diverse spaces like Forge in Birmingham and AltSpace in Bansko exemplified the resiliency and adaptability of the co-working industry. Forge, located in Birmingham, Alabama, encompasses the spirit of local community engagement, fostering collaboration and innovation. Meanwhile, AltSpace in Bansko takes co-working to scenic heights, blending the feel of a mountain retreat with the practicality of a modern workspace.     

Some other coworking spaces that we believe are revolutionizing the industry: 
1. Switchyards
2. Nomadworks

3. Outsite

4. Selina Medellin

5. Verci

Co-working spaces, like these, continue to redefine the professional landscape. Emphasizing the community aspect of these spaces will help create positive and collaborative workplaces, while still being able to work remote.


Remote-First Verses Remote-Friendly

While many companies have adopted a “remote-friendly” attitude, few companies are truly remote-first. Countless companies, post 2020, have adopted some sort of remote work into their company. This was necessary during the pandemic, and due to high satisfaction and productivity rates, many companies decided to keep certain aspects of this. But, what makes a company “remote-first”?

Flexibility to work from anywhere, whenever, and however they want are things that are uncompromisable for remote workers.

it’s a catalyst for productivity and happiness. When employees have the freedom to work from anywhere, it’s not just a benefit for them; it’s an investment in a culture that values trust, results, and the diversity of thought that comes from varied workspaces. With the trend of more and more employees taking a pay cut to work remote has driven employers to offer workation as part of the remote work package.
“Workations are more than a change of scenery; they’re an investment in the well-being and creativity of your remote team. A well-planned Workation is where professional growth meets shared adventures, forging bonds that transcend virtual spaces.” says Madison Crane, Remote Officer at Remote Company
Most Desired Fringe Benefits for Remote Workers

Remote-first companies treat remote work as the everyday way of doing things. Teams are able to work from anywhere, often with more flexible schedules than in-office companies. While there are still high expectations for the employees, remote-first companies hold the wellbeing of the employee as most dear. 

“We’re a small company (10 employees), and we are all-remote for a reason: we believe that remote work is a sustainability driver. Besides the obvious benefits of having less pollution (less commutes and less crowded cities), remote work gives a boost to local economies. We want our team members to stay in their hometowns, help their communities flourish, and spend their money at local businesses. This network of sustained local economies helps create a sustainable economy at the broader level.” says Fadi Boulos, Ph.D, CEO of Supportful

Co-working spaces, like these, continue to redefine the professional landscape. Emphasizing the community aspect of these spaces will help create positive and collaborative workplaces, while still being able to work remote.

The History of Remote Work - Pane 3

Is The Future Remote?

While there are many hands-on career fields that is not plausible to do remote, there are just as many careers that is very open to remote work. With the advancements in technology, remote work has always been on the come-up, the pandemic only pushed it along quicker than most anticipated.

“One of the most exciting and interesting aspects about remote work is being able to create a talented team from all over the world who come together with a common goal. At TestLauncher, that’s helping SaaS companies build skilled QA teams. We work hard at continuously creating a workplace where everyone is valued, connected, and feels part of the team. We have so many ways in which we do this. And our Co-Founder and Co-CEO, Eva Hamilton, has a book coming out next year titled, Get To Know A CEO, that directly deals with how to create community, unite and strengthen your team, while enhancing communication skills and your company culture.” said Jason Hamilton, CEO of TestLauncher
Statistics of Remote Work - Insured Nomads

Studies show that employees desire more flexible schedules, a better work-life balance, and more remote work opportunities. By adopted a remote-first style, many employees could be more engaged, satisfied, and just as productive (if not more) than strictly in-office work. With the advantages far outweighing the disadvantages, remote work is the future of work, and it is here to stay.

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