Soon you can live your whole life from your couch

Agoraphobics, rejoice!
Agoraphobics, rejoice!
Image: Reuters / Vivek Prakash
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Working from home is on the rise, and once your couch becomes your office you never really have to leave the house. For anything.

A study by Global Workplace Analytics found the remote worker count rose to nearly 2.4 million in 2011, compared to less than 1.5 million in 2005. Growth is slower than it was five years ago, but there’s still a notable increase in remote employees across most industries. Forbes reported last year that self-employment had seen a 14% increase (from 1.3 to 10.6 million) since 2001—and those workers are much more likely to take care of business from home than the rest of the population.

What does the telecommuting life consist of? “I’m working a fulfilling job,” Paul Hiebert writes in his analysis of the future of indoor-only life on Pacific Standard, “I’m buying a new pair of super bass headphones. I’m eating fresh sushi. I’m talking to and laughing with friends from Canada. I’m watching the latest Hollywood films. You know, just regular everyday stuff that people typically do outside the home.” The only thing that’s missing, he writes, is an adjustment to social norms. In other words, it’s still really weird to spend your whole life inside your house.

Weird, but totally (and increasingly) doable: Online shopping is growing; One forecast estimates that online sales will increase from $225.5 billion to $434.2 billion by 2017. Also, same-day delivery options are increasing, so even pressing purchases will likely be made online soon. Grocery delivery is becoming ever more ubiquitous, so you won’t starve—though, if you live in a major city, you’re probably ordering a lot of takeout anyway. Now that popular delivery websites GrubHub and Seamless are merging, they see a combined total of over 3.6 million users a month. And you won’t get bored, because these days entertainment is always within reach. Since time devoted to digital content has officially beaten time spent watching TV, you can take care of your work and play without even switching screens.

But, as Hiebert points out, someone will still have to be outside, to fix potholes and grow food, and to deliver our same-day packages. Then again, can’t we just get some pneumatic tubes and farming robots on that?