But who has to come back to work — and when and where — is proving fraught as millions of workers face having a new way of living and working ripped away by managers requiring them to show up in person, or else. That tension could mean some workers leave for companies offering more flexibility and the ability to shed burdensome commutes in favor of time with family and friends.
McCracken said some people he interviewed said “it feels like they’re putting their hand in my pocket, that they’re taking two hours from me that I had learned to use for myself” that would now flip back to wasted commute time.
Rather than having countries that having thriving individual cities at the expense of the collective whole, remote work enables a renaissance of smaller cities and towns which people desert, leaving behind friends and family, in search of opportunity. Unfortunately, what people often find is that opportunity comes at a far higher cost of living.
This is an important point. Rather than the binary debate over workplace settings (home or centralized commute in office) the larger issue is really about community. Some argue the office is a community for many. Working outside of it erodes that sense of community and for some, even family.
But knowledge workers spend most of their lives in their residential communities and with their immediate families. Time and distance separates the two. That gap is growing bigger as knowledge workers must live in communities farther from the office where they can afford housing, spawning so called “super commutes.”
Information and communications technology (ICT) and most critically fiber optic telecommunications infrastructure bridges the gap and as the author notes, more broadly distributes knowledge work to smaller, less costly and crowded communities. That also comes with benefits of a better quality of life and more personal time freed up instead of commuting every day.
Another way the tyranny of time and distance between home and office is being addressed is bringing residential and work communities closer together. Which makes sense in in California’s Silicon Valley replete with large corporate campuses, making them akin to college towns. Google, for example, is proposing to build a residential community there.
As his tagline goes, “home is where you park it.”
This illustrates the absurdity of Google’s centralized commuter office (CCO) in the San Francisco Bay Area where housing costs are dear.