I'm always happy when Joel Kotkin comes out with a new piece because he injects a dose of reality into the trendy headlines about demographic/economic trends shaping our world today. Today I found, "Skipping the Drive: Fueling the Telecommuting Trend on NewGeography.com. In this piece Kotkin shares some great statistics on the rise of the telecommuter/remote worker. I highly recommend that you click through and read the entire piece.
Although current data and thinking doesn't support my aggressive assertions about home working trends in this post I wrote last October, our economy and desires seem to be pushing us toward a more flexible and remote work mode.
Nationwide, according to the Gartner Group, in 2007 13 million workers telecommuted at least one day a week, a 16 percent leap from 2004. That number was expected to reach 14 million this year. In addition, more than 22 million individuals, according to Forrester Research, now run businesses from home.
What the data doesn't cover yet however is the rise of "Co-Working" or shared office space. Our own Impromptu Studio seems to be the first attempt at bringing this environment to the Des Moines metro. I know that there are multiple other people floating business plans for the same concept too. Instead of driving the usual commute, workers can bike, walk, or drive much shorter distances to these hubs that offer social interaction, light services, a mailing address, conference rooms, etc. I'll be very interested in seeing data on this trend as it evolves.
Planned or not some "organic savings" occur when home working or remote working becomes reality.
The potential energy savings --- particularly in terms of vehicle miles traveled --- could be enormous. Telecommuters naturally drive less, not only to work but for the numerous stops to and from work.
When I executed Geographic Arbitrage in late 2005 to begin working at home, I had no idea how much the environmentalists and greens would fall in love with me.
- I went from a 64 mile per day commute to 28 steps from the bedroom to the boardroom. I affectionately call my home office "Midwest Command."
- I went from putting 20k+ miles per year on a car to putting less than 8k on one.
- I am actually abandoning my car altogether when the lease is up in March since I can use my bike and my wife's car to be where I need to be. I'm close to what matters to me, the kids school, the store, etc.
- I can bike to a farmers market to buy local organic produce.
Des Moines has such a light commute (don't tell anyone else they move here) that we may actually be behind on this trend. Although with a high concentration of sales and support staff for the insurance / financial services industry...we may be a national leader in home work/telecommuting. Either way, I believe the trend will only continue and "work" as we know it will morph into something entirely more palatable for the information based business masses.