I was talking with my wife the other day about how we have, right now, all the resources needed to increase the amount of people working from home - or not from an office - to incredible ammounts, and how such a move would benefit the world as a whole.
Think about it: more and more people work in jobs that don’t require physical presence, yet most of us still commute to and from work every working day. If everyone who can work from home did it, we would need less dense urban centres, less cars in the streets, less trains, even less public transportation. In the eventual need for a physical meeting, everyone could agree on a meeting place, or simply go to one of those coworking areas, have the meeting, then go about their working days. Common meetings would be held over videocalls, everyone can share documents in the cloud. We office workers pass most of our days looking at a computer anyway, right? Why do I need to be at the office? A nice internet connection and a working computer, along with chat and videoconference software, and I could avoid going to the office about 90% of the time.
I could live far away from work, outside the big city. Instead of one densely populated area surrounded by smaller cities, we would have several average density towns, able to provide quality service and support to its residents. We would increase the use of public spaces and foster local businesses. Billions of people would save what ammounts to days of commute.
It’s a simple math: an average of 260 working days per year times an average of 1 hour of total commute per day, that’s 260 hours, or more than 10 days, we spend uselessly just going from home to work and back each year. I don’t know about you, but I have a good idea of what I would do with those 10+ days.
Yes, some people read on commute, some meet friends, some study, some even work out. We can do all that without needing to be in a vehicle.
Every physical meeting, in such an environment, would become an occasion, and the quality of both the meeting and individual interactions would increase. Companies would save money on rent and energy. The energy grid would catch a break. I believe some companies would save money even if they offered to pay for the employee’s internet connection and phone calls.
And all that can be achieved right now. We have the tech. Some people already do it. So why can’t we make the jump?
I guess it all comes down to old habits. Most higher management are comprised of people over 50, to whom some concepts still cause suspicions. I remember rearing a former boss saying nobody would work if they didn’t had to come to the office everyday, and I believe it’s true to some people. But I also believe my generation - I’m on my fourties - could have already achieved a healthy 90% out of office work.
What do you think? Does your type of work allows for telepresence? Would you do it if offered? If you are one of the lucky ones already doing it, tell us your experience!