Why do we build highways, transit networks, and communal infrastructure? To reliably get people where they need to go. And for most people, that means getting to work.
Although only about 4.6 percent of the workforce works primarily from home (as my office does), that’s up 80% from 2005. And as internet speeds increase, videoconferencing tools become as effective as face-to-face meetings for a wide variety of tasks. Most businesses will realize that commuting for work isn’t worth employees’ time or frustrations. There are already services like FlexProfessionals that specialize in connecting teleworking employers to potential employees.
But as this trend continues, what are the planning implications, in the long term? Here’s a few to start:
- Shifting from morning and afternoon rush scheduling: Most bus lines run more frequently during the morning and afternoon commute. As fewer people commute (and as commuting patterns become more complex), the need for rush scheduling diminishes.
- More local routes: Local routes become more important as commutes shorten.
- Fewer freeways: As commuting becomes less popular, freeways built to accommodate hundreds of thousands of single-occupancy vehicles makes less and less sense.
- We’ll have to rethink how coffee shop etiquette: It’s easy to feel isolated sitting alone staring at a laptop all day, it’s natural to want to set up shop in a public place and work for a few hours. When everyone wants to do this, it can become a problem. Low-cost coworking spaces like The Grove in New Haven, Conn. are a innovative solution to this problem.
- Among many others: Think of another way? Share it in the comments section.
Although, the coworking movement may be pre-empted by the shift to virtual reality, so we may be going to work like this for the rest of time.
Photo: Germanoparra via Wikimedia Commons