With the help of leading architects, Eneref Institute will seek to build secure shared work facilities, purpose-build for cloud collaboration, that can universally communicate with each other.
Certainly the technology already exists, or is just around the corner, to transform any walk-down-the-hall-office-visit into a mouse click, allowing managers and workers to easily, instantly and more efficiently connect with anyone on their team. Some jobs could easily move into cloud community buildings right now. For those that can’t, management needs to rethink or reinvent work tasks to fit into a new model and benefit from the increased efficiency cloud commuting employees would offer them. And companies are more responsive to customers when they can hire someone with the right training or knowledge, from anywhere in the country.
And cheerful employees make for more satisfied customers. The frustrated, and often unavailable, airline counter assistant could offer better service via a video conference, happy she works just walking distance from her home and family. Students could show up for class together inside a virtual room with a distant teacher, who paces back and forth in front of them, offering anyone with knowledge the opportunity to teach anyone with interest. It may be decades before our doctor’s visits can be replaced by teleconference, but technology is moving us in that direction. How much easier would it be to create an office daycare center when office workers are also neighbors. What opportunities would such facilities create for seasoned professionals and astute startups.
While manufacturing, by its nature, requires a physical presence, today’s manufacturing is often electronically controlled and remotely managed. And as more robots toil away at low-level tasks, we’ll need less people heading into work to turn wrenches but more people to design and manage the technology. But just as robots now stand in for manufacturing jobs, remotely controlled robotic avatars could stand in for office workers where a physical hands and eyes are required. Successfully on the job for the last 10 years is NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover, Opportunity, working 100 million miles away from Earth. Why not a room full of robot managers, all “working” in different parts of the country.
Besides, technology is already revolutionizing how we make things which will further reduce commute in the manufacturing sector of our economy anyway. Soon, some goods will be manufactured locally, as 3D printers replace stuff now made in factories. Even our clothes may be more commonly made in America again. Why not order your jeans and watch the CAD-CAM weave, cut and assembled them in front of you at your local retailer? If the energy supplied to the robotic machinery is solar, your Levi’s could cost less than having your jeans shipped from Bangladesh.