The current issue of The Economist has a great special report on Nomads – people who can work anywhere (park, coffee shop, cubicle, etc.) because of wi-fi, blackberries, and laptops.
One of the articles in the report is titled The New Oases (Nomadism changes buildings, cities, and traffic). I previously blogged about Travel Demand Management, with "telecommuting" being one of the Travel Demand Management strategies. This is an outdated concept. It basically has people working 9-5 out of a home office with a pc, fax, and land line. Being a Nomad has supplanted this concept. Now – most of us can jump on any computer, log into our work network, and dive into our files. Blackberries, iPhones, etc. have made communication amazingly easy (so easy we have addicts to their "Crackberries").
I can see several phd theses coming out of this trend:
- Urban Planning – Mixed use, flexible space makes more sense than segregated land zoning. Also, how many more giant office complexes are going to be built when most people don’t need a cube anymore?
- Traffic Engineering – Diving into the travel data to identify shifting travel patterns. Are the rush hours becoming less of a peak? Are we driving more during the day? I try to schedule my meetings in the middle of the day so I don’t hit rush hour (I am the only person I know who walks to work, but that is another post). Maybe we move away form the giant roads/intersections in the suburbs and go back to the smaller roadways of the inner cities. We need more complicated signal systems because traffic flow isn’t just driving in during the morning and out in the evening.
- Management – Shifting managers to think like college professors instead of factory line bosses. In college we were taught an hour or two a week on a subject, we did some self study, and then wrote a paper/did a design/took a test. Our professors had office hours in case we needed extra help. They didn’t tell us we had to write our paper from 8 am to 10 am at cubicle B. They told us we had to turn in a paper at 4 pm next Thursday.
This is definitely a trend to think about.