I am working from home these days, as are millions of others. Before the pandemic, I worked primarily from my office along with our ministry team. Now I’m doing everything from my home study that I did there.
Could this be the future for more of us than ever before?
A new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research (NEBR) shows that 37 percent of jobs in the US can be done at home. These jobs account for 46 percent of all wages. This is because higher-paying jobs in finance and professional services sectors can be done from home, but fewer lower-paying jobs in retail, agriculture, hotels, or restaurants are able to be done remotely.
Currently, about 5 percent of US workers work from home. One analyst expects that number to double after the COVID-19 crisis. This will have profound effects on technology requirements (companies will increase their budgets for hardware and software), consumer behavior (more people will shop online and corporate travel will fall), and leisure time (fewer workers will commute).
According to the NEBR study, the top five metropolitan areas for working from home are San Jose, California; Washington, DC; Durham–Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Austin, Texas; and San Francisco. Nearly half of the jobs in these areas could feasibly be done from home.
Finding the ‘perfect peace’ of God
I am old enough to remember a day when you worked at work and went home to be home. Except for the occasional call after hours (which we could let the answering machine catch), there was a physical and psychological barrier between our work lives and our home lives.
Then came pagers we carried everywhere; fax machines and second lines at home; mobile phones; laptop computers; and of course, the internet. Now there’s hardly a place on the planet we can go that work cannot follow.
Counselors say that these days of blurred work/home distinctions can be especially difficult for us emotionally and mentally. They encourage us to adopt and follow schedules that dictate when we are “on” and “off” work. If we are working from home, we should even dress for work when we are at work and change clothes when we are not. And we should tell others our hours and ask for their understanding and support.
All of this is valuable advice, of course. Burnout is a very real issue in these days of 24/7 work pressure. But there is a second way to look at this issue as well, one that is holistic and spiritually empowering.
C. S. Lewis noted that humans “can neither make, nor retain, one moment of time; it all comes to [us] by pure gift.” Every moment of every day is God’s gift to us.
As a result, we should see time not as our possession to do with as we wish but as God’s possession loaned to us for his purposes. If we seek and follow his will for every moment, whether at work or at home, we will find his “good and acceptable and perfect” will (Romans 12:2). We will discover the peace and power of his Spirit as he leads and uses us (Ephesians 5:18).
And as the prophet said of God, “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you” (Isaiah 26:3).
Do you have the “perfect peace” of God today?