Could Telecommuting Reinvigorate the American Dream?

By Matt Toomey

George Jetson had a flying car. Yet he still commuted to work.

Even though the Jetsons lived in a world where everyone teleconferenced, and even saw the doctor via telemedicine, it still didn’t occur to the Jetsons’ creators that people in the future might not have to drive to work every day. That’s how ingrained commuting to a job is in our way of life. But if that were to change, how vastly different would our lives become? And how much better?

Telecommuting is on the rise, and as technology continues to advance and better allow workers to productively work from home, more and more employers are allowing their employees to do so, at least some of the time. Mass transit lobbies, highway construction firms, and public transportation unions may hate the idea of reducing traffic and congestion and eliminating the daily commute as an indelible factor in our way of life. But then again, messenger boys probably hated the idea of the telephone.

There is, and has been, much initial resistance to telecommuting. It’s not being unanimously embraced with open arms (we all remember the the infamous decision of Yahoo CEO Marissa Meyers to eliminate telecommuting altogether). Generally, telecommuting is seen as something that employers are reluctantly allowing employees to do, one or two days a week at the most. And their concerns are understandable. There have been studies that show that “water cooler talk” does benefit team building, and personal interactions at the office do lead to the inception of productive, profitable ideas. The social aspect of work culture is very real and valuable.

But I have to wonder, at what point will the pros of telecommuting outweigh the cons? At the end of the day, I suspect that something that costs less for everybody, increases our quality of life, and is better for the environment will triumph over an older, more expensive, dirtier, and more stressful way of doing things. That’s usually how it goes.

Water cooler talk and interpersonal socialization definitely has its value. That isn’t being disputed. But at what point does the cost/benefit scale tip in favor of telecommuting? As technology keeps evolving, just how close can virtual interactions get to in-person interactions? Will it become more beneficial to sacrifice the benefits of in-person interactions in order to reap the benefits of telecommuting?

The first obvious benefit of telecommuting is the absence of a physical office. The costs of renting and maintaining real estate, especially in cities or other in-demand locations, would be a significant savings in itself. Without a physical location that workers have to commute to, the potential pool of talented employees to hire increases astronomically, often to a global scale.

But in the bigger picture, large-scale telecommuting could become a milestone in the creative destruction that defines our economy and way of life.

Why are some places so unaffordably expensive to live, and others not? Why would a modest four-bedroom house cost a million dollars in one neighborhood, but a hundred thousand dollars in another? Go to the full article.

Source:: Business 2 Community

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