The continuing commuting paradox of the S.F. Bay Area, stuck in the 20th Century

Eighty percent of jobs in the Bay Area are concentrated in suburban fringes with little access to regional rail, and three-quarters of Bay Area workers drive alone to work as a result, the study’s authors note.The report highlights a seeming irony: Despite pioneering innovations in their products and work spaces, they house their lava lamps and free cafes in suburban corporate campuses with seas of parking lots. It’s a form of office that took shape in the middle of the 20th century. Google, Apple and Facebook’s offices are all more than 3 miles from the nearest rail station.This isn’t going to be good for the companies’ economic vitality in the long run, said Allison Arieff, SPUR’s editorial director. “Something’s gotta give.”

Source: Study calls on big tech companies to move closer to transit – San Francisco Chronicle

The paradox of the San Francisco Bay Area continues. The Chronicle’s Nicholas Cheng points out the irony of companies that innovated information and communications technology (ICT) advances that have made the centralized, commute-in office spaces of the previous century all but obsolete, yet continue to cling to the outdated pattern. And as SPUR’s Allison Arieff says, the current state of affairs is unsustainable. There is only so much real estate, highway lanes, parking spaces and public transit capacity to work with. ICT provides far more capacity to move the products of knowledge and information work than transportation infrastructure can to move bodies every work day.

Report Summary: “State of the American Workplace,” Gallup – 1 Million for Work Flexibility

“Working remotely is also increasing across most industries that Gallup has studied,” the report says. “The finance, insurance and real estate industries experienced the greatest surge in time spent working remotely, followed by the transportation, manufacturing or construction, and retail industries. The community and social services; science, engineering, and architecture; and education, training, and library industries are on the other end of this trend: While employees in these fields still spend time working remotely, a smaller percentage are doing so today compared with a few years ago.” The Gallup data shows clear benefits to flexibility, with employee engagement rising when workers spend at least some time working remotely. The optimal engagement boost comes when workers are off-site for 60 percent to 80 percent of their time—in other words, three or four days out of the typical workweek.“ This pattern emphasizes that remote working has the greatest returns on engagement when employees maintain some degree of balance: working remotely most of the time but still getting face time with managers and coworkers,” the report says.

Source: Report Summary: “State of the American Workplace,” Gallup – 1 Million for Work Flexibility

The finding that the optimum work engagement occurs when most work is done outside of the traditional centralized, commute-in office (CCO) reinforces the view of those like Alison Maitland and Peter Thomson, authors of Future Work: Changing Organizational Culture for The New World of Work. They see the CCO evolving from daily workplace to meeting place. I interviewed Maitland and Thomson in this podcast produced in late 2015.

ICT innovators like Yahoo and IBM struggle with forces of decentralization they’ve unleashed

“Everyone I know is very upset,” says one employee, who like most interviewed asked to remain anonymous while discussing an employer. Some workers furiously began looking for new jobs. Others say they have stopped contributing to long-term projects because they aren’t sure whether they’ll be around in the future. “Source: qz.comThey can say “goodbye” to the best and brightest talent. Iike Yahoo and Best Buy, IBM is in deep trouble. Somehow that seems to create a “circle the wagons” reaction. But the connection between co-location and collaboration or innovation has NOT been proven. Many of the studies often cited in these arguments date back to the early 1990s when working at a distance was much more difficult.

Source: IBM’s recall of remote workers sounds like a death rattle. Say “goodbye” to the best and brightest. – Global Workplace Analytics

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This post by Global Workplace Analytics raises an excellent point that calls into question the value of information and communications technology (ICT) that makes collaboration possible without daily co-location and the commuting necessary to support it. It reflects the difficulty that even ICT innovators like IBM and Yahoo have coping with the society altering forces they’ve unleashed that make the commute-in office all but obsolete.