S.F. Bay Area continues to struggle in transition from industrial to information economy amid choking traffic

“Beat L.A.” is a familiar refrain in Bay Area sports, but it now appears Northern California is on its way to being a rival for Southern California in an unwelcome fashion: traffic jams.Residents in the Bay Area have become discouraged about the heavy traffic in the region, with a dramatically expanding number of them indicating that traffic is worse than a year ago amid a huge surge in the local economy, a new poll released Friday by the Bay Area Council suggests.”Bay Area residents are frustrated about traffic,” said Ruth Bernstein, senior principal with EMC Research, a firm that conducts market and opinion research. “It’s harder for them to get around. We definitely are seeing a backlash against the economic boom.”

Source: Bay Area traffic ignites backlash against boom, new poll suggests – San Jose Mercury News

The crisis of too many cars deepens in the San Francisco Bay Area as does the paradox of one of the world’s leading information tech centers ushering in an information age economy still mired in Industrial Age rush hour commute traffic. Traffic that’s completely unnecessary given the information and communications technology Silicon Valley companies innovated that allows knowledge work to be done where people live. It’s a head scratching situation that makes one think the region is trapped in a time warp with the calendar reading 1966 instead of 2016.

If Work Is Digital, Why Do We Still Go to the Office?

The transformation of our work environments is only just beginning, but it could have a major impact on architects, developers, corporations, and society at large in the years to come. Far from making offices obsolete, as the digital pioneers of the 1990s confidently predicted, technology will transform and revitalize workspaces. We could soon work in a more sociable and productive way, and not from the top of a mountain. The ominous “death of distance” may be reversed with the “birth of a new proximity.”

Source: If Work Is Digital, Why Do We Still Go to the Office?

This analysis ignores what I would term the “tyranny of distance” that comes into play with daily commute trips to centralized office buildings. And that tyranny extracts an enormous and now unnecessary cost from knowledge workers in lost personal time, stress and daily travel expense.

The 1990s visionaries (and for that matter, those that preceded them in the 1960s (Arthur C. Clarke: “Men will no longer commute, they will communicate”) and the 1970s (Alvin Toffler and the “electronic cottage”) were right: information and communications technology disintermediates distance. It has now matured to the point that the daily commute is obsolete and collaboration can be done virtually with the occasional in-person meeting to reinforce social ties.

Trouble unplugging from work? Join the crowd

Particularly in an economy that’s still struggling to find its footing, at a time when employees still feel insecure about the future, companies will have to do a better job of recognizing the threat of overwork and detecting and addressing potential problems early on, Cross said.”While enabling a work culture that embraces flexibilities, leaders also have to be cognizant of the expectation they set for their workers to be ‘on’ or available all the time,” she said. “Not only will this require a culture shift, but also a new set of competencies for both employees and managers, to learn how to effectively manage personal time, set boundaries and identify the signs of being overworked.

Source: Trouble unplugging from work? Join the crowd

Welcome to the “digital workplace” as author Paul Miller has termed it in his 2012 book The Digital Workplace: How Technology is Liberating Work. Lacking the constraints of place and time that defined the Industrial Age workplace — the 9-5 office — as a society we are having to adjust. In knowledge work, some of the best thinking and creativity doesn’t necessarily happen when we are nominally “working” since the mind never truly shuts down until we’re dead.

The bigger issue here is redefining knowledge work now that it no longer necessarily means traveling to a commute-in office to cogitate and communicate since these activities can be done most anytime, anywhere. As Mika Cross suggests, we will have to learn to manage them in order to avoid creating a “hive mind” that makes incessant demands 7/24. These minds are human beings and need downtime to refresh in order to remain sharp and focused.

Report: Housing costs, traffic congestion motivate workers to seek balance beyond Silicon Valley

In another sign that Silicon Valley isn’t as gilded as it once was, more tech workers want to leave, according to the Woo data. Almost 30 percent of Bay Area workers surveyed in the first quarter indicated they wanted to relocate, compared with 22 percent in the quarter before. New York was highest in demand.There are a number of growing tech hot spots outside Silicon Valley, May said, most of which have a lower cost of living. And that ties into the fact that people surveyed are putting a greater emphasis on work-life balance. “People are changing their priorities,” he said.There’s evidence the exodus away from Silicon Valley has started already. In 2014 more people left Silicon Valley than moved in, for the first time since 2011, according to a study by the Silicon Valley Competitiveness and Innovation Project. More than 7,500 residents hit the road, the study found. The researchers blamed quality of life issues such as skyrocketing housing prices and increasing traffic congestion.

Source: Tech workers lower salary expectations amid economic uncertainty – San Jose Mercury News

It’s time for Silicon Valley to progress to the Information Age — using the information and communications technology it innovated — and out of the Industrial Age model of centralized commuter offices and mega corporate campuses. This technology now allows information workers to do the same work they do in Silicon Valley in the cloud. That way, they can skip the daily commute and live where housing is more affordable.