Being the telecommuting junkie that I am, I have a habit of Googling for telework and reading whatever I can find about it. Blogs, news, videos, pictures, you name it.
In my search, I recently came across a Planetizen blog written by Tim Halbur where he suggested the creating of a telecommuting town. To summarize, Halbur’s town builds on the idea of a telework utopia, where all workers are able to work from home, creating a zero commute. While this may not be possible, his project proposes to select twenty towns across the country that are “ripe for creating a telecommuting hub”. Based on what is learned from the project, city halls, town centers, meeting rooms, and other public spaces may be “retrofitted” to become telework-friendly.
Surely, this is a bold idea. But of course the most pressing question is: How realistic is this? Is it practical? Heck, do we have the money?
Or, discarding practicalities, it is also interesting to ask why ideas like these are becoming more popular. These conversations are becoming more and more frequent, particularly online. What can we glean from that?
It seems to me that the popularity of this idea is what is important. It is what many employees and employers seem to want more and more. The most innovative and exciting businesses have already taken advantage of telework to increase their productivity, life satisfaction, and to save money.
While a Telecommuting Town may not be available near you (or anywhere… yet), the eWorkPlace program does offer some pretty great incentives to get at some pretty great benefits. And it’s definitely more feasible than creating entire towns for telework, no?
Adeel Lari, M.B.A., P.E.
Director of Innovative Financing, Research Fellow, and Teleworker
Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs
University of Minnesota