Companies don’t last for decades or even centuries without adapting. And while production and distribution posed problems in the past, today’s challenges center around globalization and acquiring top talent. Add COVID-19 into the mix, and logistical and employee struggles are even more evident. But many organizations are making the transition in stride. More particularly, several long-running companies are now embracing remote work.
Not every type of business or business model can utilize virtual employment or telecommuting to its advantage. But these companies are proving that adaptability is still a cornerstone of longevity. Here are just a few of the oldest companies that have turned tradition into remote work flexibility in a dynamic business market.
Do you own a pair of orange-handled scissors? Then chances are you’ve been a customer of Fiskars. With over 1 billion of these scissors sold since 1967, it’s one of the top-selling products of all time. But the history of this Finnish company goes back centuries further.
Founded in Finland in 1649, Fiskars is one of the oldest companies in the world. Originally, the company forged products in a blast furnace. But today it specializes in home products, garden products, and interior decoration. In addition, it’s the present-day owner of Waterford—the world-famous producer of crystal.
Although Fiskars has nearly 400 years of history, it’s still a company embracing remote work, hiring hundreds of people around the globe to conduct operations from the comfort of their home.
Started in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in 1938, Kaplan is one of the oldest educational service providers in the United States. The company focuses primarily on tutoring and standardized test preparation, although it also provides adult education classes.
The company has over 1 million enrolled students in 28 countries across the globe. This serves as a testament to their adaptability as an organization. From tutors to mentors to instructors, Kaplan has a diverse virtual workforce.
3. Robert Half
Named as one of the “World’s Most Admired Companies” by Fortune Magazine every year since 1998, Robert Half’s reputation speaks for itself. In addition, it ranks #490 on the Fortune 500, making it the most successful staffing and recruiting company in the country.
Providing staffing, consulting, and professional services since 1948, Robert Half proves that evolution in business can work. With offices in 300 countries and remote jobs available across the world, it’s certainly an old company embracing remote work.
4. General Electric
Established in 1906 in Schenectady, New York, General Electric has been a cornerstone of the American economy for nearly 115 years. Remarkably, this company founded by Thomas Edison still sits in the top 50 on the Fortune 500, generating revenues of nearly $100 billion with a staff of over 200,000.
General Electric currently holds a number of awards to boot, holding top rankings in categories such as:
- World’s Best Employers
- Best Employers for Diversity
- Best Employers for Women
To date, General Electric is also open to remote work opportunities, showcasing its adaptive nature and how to remain successful over several generations of workers.
Pearson is one of the oldest education companies (outside of universities) in the world, with roots dating back to 1844. In that year, the company was incorporated in the United Kingdom. Interestingly, the company started in construction, moved to publishing, and finally settled on educational services in the 1920s.
Today, Pearson’s proprietary online platforms make it a global leader in over 70 countries around the world. Plus, nearly two-thirds of the company’s $300 million in annual revenue comes directly from online classes. Thus, the company hires teachers, tutors, mentors, and many other remote employees on a regular basis.
6. American Express
Founded in 1850 in Buffalo, New York, American Express is one of the country’s oldest financial services companies. And while its innovative product lines have allowed it to subsist for 170 years, its ability to embrace remote work has made it an innovator in the global economy.
In 2017, Forbes named American Express the 23rd most valuable brand in the world. In addition, the company was also ranked the 9th Best Company to Work For and the 27th Best Company for Women.
Founded in the same year as General Electric (1906), just down the road in Rochester, New York, Xerox is a Fortune 500 company that operates in 160 countries. Originally, the company started in the photography business, but as it has with remote work, it branched out to services that provided consumers with an array of business solutions. Most famously, Xerox was a pioneer in copying, printing, and aspects of personal computing.
As of 2020, Xerox has 27,000 employees, including a sizable number of remote workers in a variety of professions.
8. ADP (Automatic Data Processing)
Based in New Jersey, ADP is a human resource services company that was founded in 1949. In just over 70 years, the company has risen from a small payroll company to an organization that handles the payroll of 36 million Americans. It’s also been listed on Fortune’s “Most Admired Companies” for 14 years running, showcasing its top-notch work culture. Among its 58,000 employees, many work from home, making ADP yet another old company embracing remote work.
9. Bausch + Lomb
Since 1853, Bausch + Lomb has been an industry leader in eye care products. Unsurprisingly, it’s a major producer of contact lenses, as well as pharmaceuticals and eye surgery products. Founded in Rochester, New York, the company has since moved its headquarters to Quebec. This makes it one of only a handful of major American-founded corporations to migrate north of the border. Today, a large portion of its sales staff works remotely, allowing the company to hire top talent from both Canada and the United States.
10. Edward Jones
Edward Jones is a St. Louis-based investment firm that specializes in retirement and wealth planning. Since 1922, the company has focused on products and financial solutions for individuals and small businesses at over 14,000 locations throughout North America.
To cut costs and streamline business processes, Edward Jones has built a large remote employee base, particularly in the fields of IT and customer service. It’s also the only major brokerage firm to have a female managing partner with Penny Pennington earning the job in 2019.
11. Bank of New York Mellon
If you’re a fan of “Hamilton,” you’ll be excited to know that the Bank of New York Mellon (BNY Mellon) was originally founded by a group that included Alexander Hamilton—the future treasurer of the U.S. and the iconic character in musical theater.
Founded in 1784, the Bank of New York Mellon is the third-oldest bank in the U.S. Nearly 80% of the Fortune 500 are among the bank’s clients, as well as 77 of the country’s top 100 university endowments. In addition, many of the bank’s mortgage services are now run remotely, giving finance professionals the opportunity to work for a prestigious, historical bank.
Along with GE and Xerox, Gannett is another major corporation founded in Rochester, New York, in 1906. (Was it something in the water?) Started as a small newspaper operation, Gannett has expanded over the past 115 years to become one of the largest mass communication companies on the planet. Some of the subsidiaries of the organization include USA Today, the Detroit Free Press, the Indianapolis Star, and the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Thanks to the ability of journalists and writers to work 100% virtually, Gannett is also responsible for a large remote workforce, demonstrating its ability to adapt from printer word to the internet.
13. The Hartford
Not surprisingly, The Hartford was founded in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1810, making it one of the oldest companies in the United States. Over 200 years later, the company remains true to its roots, delivering insurance and investments for millions of customers throughout the country.
But a company doesn’t last 200 years without adopting modern trends. Today, a portion of the company’s 19,500 employees work remotely as insurance agents, customer support, and IT support.
Kids are glued to electronic devices now more than ever. But that hasn’t stopped Mattel from remaining a leading manufacturer of toys. Since 1945, the California-based company has produced some of the world’s most influential and famous toys, including Barbie, the jack-in-the-box, Polly Pocket, and various action figures. Telecommuting has since become a large part of its employment arrangements. Most of these jobs are in customer service, making it a long-running company that embraces remote work.
15. UPS (United Parcel Service)
You don’t have to don the brown uniform to become a valuable employee for a worldwide leader in package delivery and supply chain management services. Founded in Seattle in 1907, UPS has diversified its staff of 481,000 workers, adding a team of dedicated remote workers in recent times. Although these workers won’t be delivering the 6.7 million letters and packages delivered daily, they’ll find work in customer service, consulting, data entry, and IT.
The ability to adapt and change for the betterment of a company doesn’t always come naturally. It requires vision and a mission to bring a product that doesn’t fall out of style and the overwhelming ambition to succeed. How long will these companies continue to thrive? No one can answer that question. But if the past is any indication, chances are longevity is in the future.
If you’re interested in joining any of these prestigious companies, don’t forget to check out the Virtual Vocations company database. With remote job opportunities for nearly all of the above businesses, you can grow with a company that has a proven formula for success.
Do you know of any other long-running companies embracing remote work? Connect with Virtual Vocations on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube to share your advice. We’d love to hear from you!
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