Laundry, Grocery Stores, Streetcars, and Hacking Away…

Just reading up on some thoughts being fed through twitter and I stumbled on one by @robbyrussel “today == laundry + hacking day”.  I couldn’t help but run through a few scenarios were I’ve seen people getting work done over the last few years.  Everywhere from the grocery store to the zoo bomb runs (before jumping aboard the ride).  Of course, one of my favorite ways to get work done is to jump aboard the streetcar and wire up with the SprintPCS card and work away.  For some reason, the streetcar, or MAX, is usually a great thinking place for me.

I’ve also read that maybe 5-15% of the people who could work remotely actually do.  A lot of that has to do with a paranoia from business interests about what an employee is doing and they are rightfully concerned.  I wouldn’t want someone to work remote, not do anything, grab a check and then disappear on me.  This fortunately is easily resolved with various modern processes and communications.  Agile itself bodes fairly well to remote work even, as long as those communication channels are maintained well.  I worked for about a month with someone completing work for me in Brazil, with just a few hours of communication a day, to remove roadblocks and hurdles, he (Jay! thx for the help!) was able to knock out the work tasks for the project super fast.

That leads me into another though, meddling over into my transit interests and economics in general.  A few assumptions stated; the tech market provides a vast amount of wealth in the US, it also consumes a vast amount of resources.

Technology workers continue their move toward more social interaction at work and to continue increasing productivity and efficiencies while decreasing our vast usage of the infrastructure. With these actions the tech sector alone could begin a revival of sorts within the economy itself!  But as I look at some companies that I’ll refer to as legacy companies, it is a slower move than it should be.  This shift to a more socially interactive, agile, and effective production method for software, and even hardware, in the marketplace needs to increase.

In Atlanta,Georgia and other auto-centric areas of the country the tendency for telecommuting has been increasing, but not nearly as much as it could.  In no ways would it eliminate the poor infrastructure design of Atlanta, that will take a lot of other work, but it would lead to more economic activity and allow for growth of more elaborate town centers.  Portland on the other hand, would probably benefit even more from this because it is already setup for this type of work.  Numerous individuals already work remotely in Portland, Oregon and have social interaction and efforts that make many legacy companies efforts seem arduously slow and cumbersome.

Just to name a few companies right off, that could drastically benefit from this even more are Microsoft, Intel, and other giants.  In many ways these companies have done great things with remote work, arguably their best work is done via remote effort.  They however could save millions a year on real estate and space needs by merely investing in local infrastructure and economic activity to provide places to setup these remote workers.  A coffee shop, a town center, simple meeting place for groups, are perfect for this type of effort.

The companies that have the greatest distances to cover to gain competitive advantage with remote work utilization are the real legacy companies.  These companies range from Ford, GM, Blue Cross, and other giant entities that really don’t build software as a primary revenue generator, but do build a lot of software.  These companies need to improve their management capability to better leverage these remote working abilities.  The advantages are too numerous to avoid.

When looking for work, always push for this type of work atmosphere, at least push for it being reviewed.  I can promise that any company that doesn’t take more advantage of remote workers will eventually lose their edge and fall to the wayside with the legacy companies that have already been put to death by inefficient and arduous old school thought.

It’s time to provide this freedom on a large scale.  Get with the progress.  Cheers!