The first annual SOFA (Shooting Oneself in the Foot Award)

Our inaugural SOFA goes to AT&T. Yes AT&T, one of the world’s leaders in the implementation of telecommuting in the 1980s and 1990s, is now described as calling back the teletroops, according to an article in Network World. Many of AT&T’s telecommuters must now go back to the traditional office and traffic jams. It appears, no surprise to those following the history of the telcom’s, that SBC (the latest owner of AT&T) in it’s wisdom has decided, once again, to rid the world of these newfangled means for improving productivity, saving energy, reducing the rate of global warming, and otherwise enhancing the company’s bottom line.

Now suppose that you are the CEO of a major company that has just acquired a treasure trove of talent, resources, and capital. Would you act to improve and expand those riches? Continue reading The first annual SOFA (Shooting Oneself in the Foot Award)

…nothing to lose but their chains

Although the title of this piece derives from the antepenultimate sentence of The Communist Manifesto, it is a phrase that has long occupied the back of my mind when thinking about the future of telework. Specifically, what would happen to the growth rate of telework if all workers had portable health care and pension plans?

I suspect that the numbers of teleworkers—particularly telecommuters—would quickly show a major increase. If your are dissatisfied with your job, and you have marketable skills and experience, what is holding you back from changing it? Continue reading …nothing to lose but their chains

Blowing past 100

Past 100 dollars US per barrel of oil, that is. I made the forecast to some friends early this year that we would see $100 oil by the end of this year. It seems that that day has arrived—or shortly will arrive. Apparently the message of ever higher-priced oil is finally beginning to penetrate the global mind. Not a minute too soon.

As one indicator, the Tokyo auto show, just ended, had a number of green cars in it. These included a 400kg plug-in hybrid Toyota 1/X and an innovative all-electric Nissan Pivo with a 360-degree revolving cabin and wheels that can turn 90 degrees to slide directly into parking places. Of course, you can’t actually buy one of these yet. Maybe in a few years.

So what can you do now while gas prices continue their inexorable climb and the interest portion of your adjustable-rate mortgage follows suit? Continue reading Blowing past 100

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