IBM unintentionally changed the world forever when they introduced the concept of working from home in 1979. What began as an experiment with five employees would revolutionize the company and introduce new job opportunities to millions.
Now, 38 years later, with the internet making working from home easier than ever, the tech giant has asked for their workforce to return to the office.
A recent article in The Atlantic by Jerry Useem outlines IBM’s history of allowing their employees to work from home, the impact that it had on both the company and global business, and why IBM decided last March to end this decades-old experiment.
According to the article, Gallup reports that 43 percent of U.S. employees work remotely. As these numbers continue to rise, the ability for co-workers to have a beneficial face-to-face interaction falls, decreasing their potential for what Useem calls collaborative efficiency. "Collaboration requires communication. And the communications technology offering the fastest, cheapest, and highest-bandwidth connection is — for the moment, anyway — still the office," he writes.
Harvard Business School historian Nancy Koehn joined Boston Public Radio Tuesday to discuss how working remotely changed the business world, why companies want their employees back in the office, and what the future of working from home could look like. Koehn also took listeners' calls to hear how being able to work from home has changed their lives.
Click on the audio player above to hear the full interview with Harvard Business School historian Nancy Koehn.