Yesterday I met a colleague at IBM Brazil that moved to a world wide position. He is now living in Manhattan, New York.
His everyday routine, as most Information Workers nowadays, is to talk to people, make phone conference calls, e-mails, design and communicate strategies, make some data consolidation and reports, instant messaging, etc.
Since most of this things have become information, and since we have information technology today, he can do his job from any point on earth as long as he has an Internet connection to let the information flow.
He choose NY because he enjoys life jazz and wanted to experiment the Big Apple, not because his job is physically located there. He could choose Montana, Alaska, Manaus, Fernando de Noronha etc to live.
Of course personal contact is sometimes needed. In these occasions, people schedule meetings and get a flight to meet someplace. This is probably cheaper than maintaining an office space for all these information workers, and probably more friendly to the environment than make them drive everyday to a physical location.
I can think about dozens of jobs that could be this way. Lawyers, journalists, writers, architects, web 2.0-related jobs, even also physicians in many situations when they don’t need to examine their patients.
The matter of all these jobs is information and the platform to make it flow is ready — the Internet. Now we just need a sort of cultural shift.
8 thoughts on “Information Worker”
Well… Manaus is not an option if you need internet access. For example, I pay US$150,00 monthly for an internet link of just 200kbps (yes, its right!) and latency around 700ms.
And I should consider myself happy, since I live an area that is covered by internet services (only a small section of the whole city has internet providers).
OK, so Manaus is still not an option 🙁
While most of the clinican consultation can be done by teleconference, most clinical consultations have at least one moment where we (medical doctors) need to touch the patient.
Leonardo, of course each doctor has its own method.
My last doctor was a generalist that examined me in the first visit. After that I went there again several times to bring exam results and to mostly talk about options. He never examined me again.
I thought much of these contacts could be made over the phone, sparing my time driving to his office, etc.
Hello, Avi, I agree with you that potentialy all these jobs could be done remotedly, but, as you say, we would need a very strong culture change, since working from somewhere else outside the company office demands that people that are at the office are comitted with sharing information and having meetings. The fact that theoretically a job could be done away from the office does not mean, yet, that it can actually be done this way, since there are several factors that are still extremely valued in terms of salary and promotion, for example, which are evaluated according to physical presence.
(All these thoughts come from some discussions I had in the Online Facilitation ML and the work of a friend here in Spain who is researching about telework)
Dani, first of all, supercool to know you read around 🙂
Of course it has drawbacks.
For example, I have a similar job today. But I can’t avoid going to the office almost everyday because currently to keep strong and close relations to some peers and teams is very important for me.
My objective here was just to point that information-centered work may be a reality today. For broader acceptance, telecommunications technologies still must get better, and much more cultural shift is required.
Yup, Avi, I do read your blog and finding it very interesting. 🙂
Here are the references I mentioned:
Online Facilitation ML
And here is an example of my friend’s work (in Spanish):
El impacto del teletrabajo en las empresas y en el ámbito doméstico y familiar.
nice blog about job sceneria and about your experience with information technology sectior.