Jerry Brown ponders the high cost of the car as he departs Paris climate confab

The California governor had spent five days in the city promoting measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, lobbying world leaders as they met to negotiate a global climate pact.On Thursday, with those negotiations entering their final stretch, Brown sat with a sweater on his shoulders, Austrian philosopher Ivan Illich’s concept of counter-productivity on his mind.“He said if you count the cost of the hours that you have to work to pay for your car and the insurance and the gasoline, and then add that, kind of translate that into time,” Brown said, “you could go faster on a bicycle.”But looking out the window at the traffic rushing by, Brown said he didn’t “know what to do with all of that, because everybody is working all the time for their car.”“That’s why this is so challenging,” he said. “What we’re doing relative to what needs to be done leaves open a lot of things to be figured out.”

Source: Jerry Brown leaves Paris: ‘We’ll see how we do’ | The Sacramento Bee

One place Brown can begin is asking why there’s so much dependence on automobiles. It’s hard to get people out of their cars when they need them to earn a living. Bill Davidow, author of the book Overconnected, writes on how the rise of the automobile and modern highways following World War II made it possible for people to work in a community far distant from the one in which they live. Now decades later, we are virtually “locked in” to commuting to work by car, Davidow asserts in his book.

But the last two decades have seen the rise of a new information and communications technology infrastructure that obviates the need to drive to a centralized, commute-in office every work day. People can use that infrastructure to bring their work to them rather than the traveling to a distant workplace, working at home or in distributed co-working shared office facilities in their communities. The latter option is also far more accessible by the bicycle commute Brown envisions.

Conversation with Michael Shear on distributed office spaces

Much of the discussion around the decentralization of knowledge work out of centralized commute-in offices is on telework — which for many connotes working from home. But that’s just one way today’s advanced information and communications technologies (ICT) can be utilized to manage transportation demand and traffic congestion, particularly for those who lack suitable home office space or don’t wish to work at home. Another is distributed office spaces located in communities where knowledge workers live offering social interaction, professional collaboration and IT support without the long commute and the stress and wasted time of rush hour traffic. Instead of thinking of access to centralized commuter offices via transportation infrastructure, a new way of thinking is emerging that flips the focus to providing access to knowledge workers where they live via ICT infrastructure.

Michael Shear heads the nonprofit Broadband Planning Initiative and Strategic Office Networks LLC (Website). He works with communities and organizations through public-private partnerships to establish and manage distributed workplace networks. These benefit knowledge workers by making work more accessible and employers by providing access to a broader labor market and better staff retention. Communities also gain “gas dollars” that would otherwise be spent on commuting and related costs by keeping them in the community. With increasing traffic congestion and reduced proximity to jobs in many metro areas as well as concerns over natural and human caused events in urban centers posing a disruptive threat to organizations, Shear believes a tipping point for broader adoption of distributed community office spaces is at hand. He has written several LinkedIn posts on the topic that can be viewed here.

Conversation with Laurent Dhollande, CEO of Pacific Workplaces and Cloud VO

Commuting sucks. But so can working at home, which while avoiding the commute often lacks in the sense of community that for many sparks engagement and creativity. And not everyone has a suitable home office environment.

This podcast’s guest Laurent Dhollande, CEO of San Francisco-based Pacific Workplaces and Cloud VO, offers a solution: shared co-working spaces located in communities where people live offering fast Internet connections and the amenities of the centralized commuter office — sans the commute to a different community.

These community-based facilities fit nicely with the maturation of information and communications technology and its increased adoption, making time and location increasingly less important in knowledge work. This is the sense of history over the longer term, but it has not yet reached a tipping point, Dhollande observes. Many large organizations with staff living at the affordable edges of metro areas haven’t yet embraced the idea of distributed staff or have learned to manage them effectively.

Telecommuting USA: Stuck on the threshold of change | The Stack

Information and communications technologies have swept across the globe and their economic impact affects every community throughout the United States. Not only has this revolution accelerated the growth in the information economy but it has also facilitated the rapid transfer of American jobs to other countries. As America struggles to find its policy footings regarding these swiftly advancing services and technologies, fundamental changes to social and economic structures are well underway. While classical views on the future of metropolitan communities, regional economic development and sustainability planning approaches provide strong emphasis (if not sole) on the transportation and mass transit infrastructure or focus on increasing densities, they exclude any mention of information and communications infrastructure as a tool for planning 21st century communities.

Source: Telecommuting USA: Stuck on the threshold of change | The Stack

As I argue in my book Last Rush Hour: The Decentralization of Knowledge Work in the Twenty-First Century, in this article Michael Shear also portrays the rapid development and proliferation of information and communications technology as a hugely disruptive socio-economic force. It’s obsoleting the twentieth century, Industrial Age pattern where people live in one community and commute to another to work. Now they can work in their communities, either at home or in local shared office space that Shear terms “distributed workplaces.”