On the second Thursday in June we celebrate National Work From Home Day, this year it is June 11. It’s a chance to recognize the technological and cultural evolutions that allow us as a work culture to be as productive anywhere in the world as we are in the office. For years, working at home had been the purview of certain types of jobs, or saved as a bonus to reward employees while the rest of us battled with the daily commute. Now, however, the tools exist so that nearly any office job can be done at home without a loss of productivity. Today, we celebrate those achievements and do so in our pajamas.
History of National Work From Home Day
The history of working from home should probably be called the history of working, because for most of human history work was done primarily in and around the home. From the earliest hunter-gatherers to the home-based shops of medieval Europe, working from home was more the norm than the exception. It wasn’t until the Renaissance when mixed use storefronts gave way to more centralized administrative buildings for government, schools, that the idea of an office to go to for work even entered the lexicon.
However, it was the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century that changed the way we work in profound ways. The advent of factories with sophisticated and heavy machinery for producing goods such as textiles meant that people were unable to do their work within the confines of their own homes. This created the working outside of the home model consisting of skilled workers that would eventually evolve into our own familiar office-style work model.
Throughout most of the 20th century work from home was relegated to certain professions, the most notably being creative arts — painters, musicians, writers, etc. — and multi-level marketing jobs that became popular in the 1950s and 1960s.
However, in the background, the technology was slowly evolving to the point where working from home was as technologically sophisticated and productive as working in an office. From roughly the 1980s until today, technology has opened the door bit by bit to more and more remote work options. The personal computer, the fax machine, mobile phones, the internet, video chat, collaborative documents, have all collaborated to changes in remote work culture and capability.
As the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on remote work is analyzed in the coming months, many of the cultural barriers to remote work may be weakened or removed, revealing a renaissance in remote work professions (pants options, of course).
National Work From Home Day timeline
- March 2020
COVID Creates New Paradigm
The onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic forces millions of workers to become fully remote.
Videoconferencing Becomes Widespread
Though the technology had been evolving since the 1930s, it wasn't until the 2010s that it became powerful enough to deploy worldwide.
- 19th Century
Industrial Revolution Puts Work From Home on Hiatus
With the advent of factories and the basic work model they created, most people throughout the 19th and 20th centuries would work away from home.
Centralized work spaces start to form
The Renaissance brought about a change in the way governments functioned, making them more centralized, creating what we would now consider to be offices.
National Work From Home Day - Survey Results
National Work From Home Day FAQs
How Common is Working from Home?
Right now, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, working from home is far more common than ever. According to the U.S. census, though, about 5.2% of American workers worked at home in 2017.
How Can I Stay Connected When Working From Home?
The best way to stay connected is to utilize one or more of the many collaborative work tools available like Zoom, Slack, Basecamp, or Google Docs.
How Can I Effectively Work from Home?
Set up a routine and stick to it is the first tip for effectively working from home. Balance your work and home spaces, responsibilities, and relationships as if you were still in the office. And be clear about what hours you are working, including to yourself.
National Work From Home Day Activities
No Shirt, No Shoes, No Problem
Assuming you've already chosen to celebrate National Work From Home Day by actually working from home, why not take it step further and completely eschew that office dress code. Want to type away in cut-off jean shorts and an old band t-shirt? Go for it. Pajamas more your style, who are we to judge. Get comfy, cause you're already home.
My That Couch Looks Comfy
Sure, your home office may be the latest in ergonomic work chairs from Sweden but they don't hold a candle to your couch. Prop your laptop on a throw pillow on your lap and get workin.'
Make a Gourmet Homemade Lunch
When we're in the office, lunch often exists of greasy takeout or a limp sandwich eaten at your desk. But when you're home you have access to all sorts of foods and cooking materials. Why not make the most of them? Spend a little time (breaks are healthy) and prepare a nice meal from scratch. You'll feel much better about your culinary choices and come back to your desk refreshed and ready.
Five Ways To Make The Most Out Of Working From Home
Have a Routine
It doesn't really matter what it is as long as you stick to it. Routines make us more productive and reduce anxieties about never leaving work.
Maintain Relationships With Your Coworkers
We may have never felt so remote in our lives, but that's no excuse for allowing those work relationships to go fallow. Set up a virtual happy hour, have treats or lunches delivered, maintain watercooler chat on Slack or Basecamp, and celebrate personal and professional wins.
Boundaries Make Good Workers
Sure, your office may be your kitchen table but that's no reason to let the office takeover your home. As with a routine, it is important to set boundaries for your work life and your home life. When the work day is done, put the laptop away, leave your home office, and maybe mute your slack messages.
Make Accommodations For Your Kids
When you're working in an office and the kids are in school it is easy to forget how tough it is to balance both at the same time. Now that everyone is home (and those kids are probably bored) creating rules and routines for your children will help to reduce the number and frequency of interruptions
Make your Breaks Meaningful
It's easy to overlook the importance just chatting with your desk mate can have on resetting your brain's productivity capabilities. When working from home, especially solo, take meaningful breaks. Go for a walk, do some light exercise, pick up a book and read for a few minutes. Do things that help to give your brain the break it needs to maintain high productivity.
Why We Love National Work From Home Day
It Feels Almost Like a Staycation
We may be working, but when you don't have to worry about beating the traffic to the office and instead ease into the day with a cup of coffee on the porch, it can almost feel like having the day off — almost.
Video Calls Can Be Fun
Don't throw that tomato at the screen, you know they have their moments. Video calls are a fact of life now but they don't have to drab, annoying, and fruitless conversations. Spice them up with a clever background, or start each meeting by screen sharing a fun game that everyone on the call can play. Video calls are what you make them, so make them fun.
The Relative Freedom
Of course we are still expected to work our usual hours and be as productive as we are in the office, but when you're working from home there's a bit more freedom to control your day than there is when you're under the microscope in the office. Take advantage of that freedom, it can be recuperative.