Surprise! It’s all about oil

For those of you who have been wondering, the military action in Iraq is really about oil, not Weapons of Mass Destruction. It must be true because Alan Greenspan wrote it in his recently released book, The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World. Ordinarily I try to refrain from posting statements related to politics in this blog, but this one was just too much for someone interested in long term sustainability. In this case, the issue definitely emphasizes the need for decreased worldwide dependence on oil.

Not only that, but the world could do with a lot less of the hypocrisy prevalent in political (and other) circles. As an example of American hypocrisy, George Lakoff editorializes in Truthout:

The contracts the Bush administration has been pushing the Iraqi government to accept are not just about the distribution of oil Continue reading Surprise! It’s all about oil

Your office on a stick

One of the persistent problems of teleworking, for those telecommuters and other teleworkers who have multiple “offices”, is keeping files synchronized between locations. In the earlier days of telecommuting we even had one telecommuter who dragged file drawers from the main office, put them in the car trunk, and trundled the whole works home the evening before starting a telecommuting day. Well, now there’s a better way, at least for Windows users.

Continue reading Your office on a stick

Commuting health/death risks

One of the factors we don’t explicitly calibrate when we evaluate telecommuting programs is the health benefit of staying off the road. Well, we do actually assess a benefit in terms of the days of sick leave not taken by telecommuters (roughly 2 days annually less than non-telecommuters). But, thanks to an article in Forbes.com (and a tip from our colleague in Buenos Aires) you can assess your own health risks if you’re still commuting frequently.

Continue reading Commuting health/death risks

Bushwacked in the Internet

Paul Krugman, writing in the New York Times on July 23rd, made the point that, thanks to regulatory policy over the past 7 years, the US has dropped from being the world leader in per capita access to the Internet to somewhere past 10th place, depending on the details. The reason? The big phone and cable companies have been allowed to stifle the growth of bandwidth available and overcharge the customers of Internet services.

Continue reading Bushwacked in the Internet

Oil: Its status and options

Recently, Eric Britton of ecoplan (and the dynamo behind the Kyoto World Cities 20/20 Challenge) asked some of us for comments regarding possible long-term energy policy issues and options. His specific request was:

Given what you know about the long term needs, trends and prospects, (and please do specify a bit, is that out to 2020, 2030, 2050 and/or beyond), would you help us to understand what you think governments and policy makers at various levels, the key industrial and financial groups, and others should be concentrating their attention on in the next 3-4 years, say from 2007 to 2010?

Here’s my initial response to Eric’s request:

Continue reading Oil: Its status and options

The Snarl factor

What got me started investigating telecommuting in the 1970s was snarled traffic. As LA’s population grew so did the traffic jams. We all looked forward to the opening of a new freeway between home and work. It was only later, sometimes as soon as a few months, that we learned, or relearned, Parkinson’s Law of freeways: Traffic grows to clog the roads available. Over a period of three decades it always seemed to take half an hour to forty minutes to get to the office 16 miles (26 km) away, regardless of the number of “improvements” in the freeways. Now, of course, a forty-minute commute is on a good day. That is, it would be if I were still commuting. The snarls keep increasing.

But there’s another snarl problem. Continue reading The Snarl factor

UNAIMIT lives!

Roughly two decades ago, when I was still in charge of the Information Technology Program of the Center for Futures Research at the University of Southern California, my associate, Omar El Sawy, and I cooked up a seminar for prospective entrepreneurs. Omar called the seminar project UNAIMIT, an acronym whose meaning I have forgotten. The idea was to engage the seminar attendees into developing a plan for a new technology-based business. We decided that the fledgling business would be a custom, high tech shoe factory.

The technology twist was that there would be a small laser scanner that would develop a 3 dimensional computer model of the prospective shoe purchaser’s feet. This model would then be sent to another computer that would select the shoe components, shapes, colors and sizes in accordance with the model and the customer’s fashion decisions. An automated, customized, guaranteed-to-fit pair of shoes would be produced at an affordable price! The engineering details would be handled after the seminar.

Continue reading UNAIMIT lives!

Telework and Telelife: Tell it to the judge

One of the key components of a successful telework program is the set of agreements between employer and teleworker. We have always insisted that such agreements are absolutely necessary even for try-it-to-see-if-we-like-it programs.

Just as if to emphasize this credo, Patti Waldemeir’s article Courts define area between life and work in the 25 January 2007 Financial Times makes it clear [you may need a subscription to the FT to read it]. Telework governance has reached the age of litigiousness.

“When work is no longer a place, what are its boundaries?

In America, this is the kind of existential question that judges and juries simply cannot resist. So now, in the early broadband era, US courts are trying to set some hard and fast guidelines for the work-life divide.”

Therefore, in order to preempt a situation in which you find youself or your teleworking employees in court, consider adopting the following rules for agreement between employer and teleworker, at least for starters:

Another misguided survey

On January 17, 2007 the Los Angeles Times Business section had an article titled: Telecommuters may go nowhere — careerwise on its front page. The article’s focus was in the third paragraph:

“Telecommuters are less likely to get promoted than peers who head into the office every day, according to a global survey of 1,300 executives released Tuesday [January 16th] by Los Angeles-based executive search firm Korn/Ferry International.”

On the other hand, the article ended with:

“Despite their hesitations, 77% of the executives said they would consider taking a job in which they regularly telecommuted . . . .”

Hmmmm. What’s sauce for the gander . . .

What the survey really shows is widespread ignorance about proper management of teleworkers in general and telecommuters in particular. Continue reading Another misguided survey