Technology, Trust, and Remote Possibilities

Nicole - Lafayette, Indiana
Entered on April 25, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: science

I believe that technology has the power to reshape the most fundamental aspects of our society.

“Wow,” you just thought, “way to state the obvious: now can we please move on to a topic that actually might present a contentious issue–something to make me think about my life in a different way?”

Well, yes.

Because what I am suggesting about the power of technology extends just beyond the obvious. Beyond the fact that we are all more connected with more people in far more complex, nuanced ways than ever before. Because these are things we all know already, even if we have not taken critical, sufficient advantage of these abilities—these possibilities.

These commonplace revolutionary technologies of the everyday present an opportunity for us to take part in a paradigm shift that is already happening for some and should be happening for thousands of others—maybe even millions.

I am talking about the ability to work within our homes and communities.

I am talking about abolishing the traditional concept of the workplace.

It’s possible. It’s within reach. Not for everyone, believe me, I accept and understand this, but for far more people than are currently able to take advantage of this possibility.

When I think about the possibility of a mass shift to telecommuting, flexible work schedules, and remote, out-of-office working styles—whenever and wherever they are possible in a given line of work–I see less congested cities with fewer cars on the road. I see an incredible improvement in our environment—starting locally and expanding globally. I see a renewed emphasis on our ability to view our family and work lives as more integrated.

I see a revolution finally taking root in our understanding of work as a sphere that does not touch our lives. I see a shift in the consumption habits, many of which are based on the morning and evening commute, that have to change before we find ourselves beyond a point of no return. Environmentally, socially, professionally—there is an unprecedented opportunity to produce great, positive change.

But these are all just possibilities. Projections. Because as it stands, thousands of employers are unwilling to make this jump, unable to feel that traditional supervision can be replaced by simple trust—trust in an employee to do the right thing and remain just as productive. In this economy, there is a certain pervasive superstition about change, which is understandable but profoundly unfortunate.

A massive shift back to the home and community with work in tow is not a cure-all solution. Not everyone will be able to take part. It will not work for all. There are problems with this shift and a period of resetting, readjustment will be required.

But just for a moment, think. Think about your commute. Your consumption. The bridge that separates the flow between your family, community, and your career. How high is that bridge and what if it burned?