The Future of Telecommuting
Yonatan Zunger
28227

Effects of an increase in Telecommuting:

  1. Property values will become more even, or rather will be biased for pleasant places to live, rather than bound to the work location. As increasing numbers of lower income LI jobs come into play, prices will level out.
  2. That said, you will have to live in a place that has high speed internet. You will be able to choose a small town, but it will be a lot harder to live on a quarter section in the middle of nowhere. (Two years ago we paid $6000 for a tower to allow us to get 5 Mbit/s)
  3. There will be loose continental binding. I’ve heard of some of these round the world groups that make for really weird meeting times for someone, but in general 80% of employees will be +- 2 time zones from the central office. A company that is sufficiently diverse to have multiple large projects could site internal company divisions on different continents.
  4. Because of the distractions and possible special equipment at home, I expect to see ‘remote offices’ Take an old strip mall, carve it up into small offices with a good data connection and a lounge, a couple meeting rooms. By going there, you achieve better work/homelife separation.

===================================

There are bunch of LD jobs you’ve glossed over. While plant jobs will decline, installation and maintenance jobs will not. The parts for a 10 MW wind turbine may be mass produced in China, and shipped to a nearby port. But it will be a good while before assembly robots put them together. I suspect that 50 meter long turbine blades aren’t going to be sent by Autodrive trucks either.

It’s not worth doing with a robot until you are doing the exact same thing thousands of times.

Until we make firm break with the way we build houses, we’re going to need carpenters, electricians, plumbers, tile setters, carpet layers. Yes there are modular homes. They are produced almost the same way in a barn instead of on your site. They usually aren’t cheaper: They have to be structurally robust to enable transport, and the cost of transport kills the benefits of an assembly line. Robots have to become far more general purpose before they can take on house building.

This may make for a cultural divide: The LI people will be one class. The whole family can be snowbirds, living in the Mojave desert in winter, and in the Rocky Mountains in summer. The LD will be bound to their location.