We know all about the legions of tech workers who live in fun, urbane San Francisco and commute to work in Silicon Valley. They’ve been blamed for driving up rents in the city. And the luxury buses that carry them to and from Google, Apple, Yahoo and other tech campuses have been likened to “spaceships on which our alien overlords have landed” to rule over the locals.Now, one big Silicon Valley company is trying to get its employees to move closer to work. Facebook is offering payments of $10,000 and up to workers who relocate to within 10 miles of its main campus, just off Highway 84 at the western end of the Dumbarton Bridge.
Wouldn’t it be far easier and less costly to both Facebook and its employees to simply go virtual to end the time wasting three hour daily commutes endured by staff living in San Francisco? And do employees really need to be sitting in a cubicle to do their jobs and have co-located face time collaboration Monday through Friday?
The irony here is these Silicon Valley companies innovated information technology tools that erase time and distance in business communication and collaboration, yet remain mired in the pre-information, Industrial Age economy where knowledge work is centralized in commute-in offices. Those tools enable collaboration without the commute.
Another option Facebook should consider along with other Silicon Valley companies is bringing the work closer to the workers by using on demand “office as a service” providers in San Francisco and elsewhere instead of building massive commuter campuses and deploying bus fleets to bring the workers to the work.