New Economy Old ways
When I emigrated from India 25 years back, I felt as if I had a version upgrade. From rusty, crowded infrastructure to a new shiny spacious infrastructure. The next 5 years saw the dot com boom and all of a sudden I found myself in a new version altogether. I booked my own travel tickets, checked in online, I can check my air miles and even started earning credits for the coffee I had. This is the time I saw Border books – my favorite hangout place closing down; Circuit city, Blockbuster shut down and many other brick and mortar businesses disappear. Next 5 years I saw another version upgrade that brought Mobility into the picture and everything was a touch n go affair. Netflix, Amazon, Google is at the prime of their business and technology started ruling the human mind as Gmail started completing my emails. Yes, AI was sneaking while we debate its pros and cons.
Today, when I sit here in solitary confinement of my home, and I heard the news that the Himalayas range of mountains north of India is visible from Punjab, I went back to my backyard and to check if the Bay look any different. My wish was granted, the view was crystal clear and beautiful, which looked indeed different. A series of what-ifs made me wonder why the hell we have so many cars on the road, why that everyone has to come to a big city and what in the world we humans are doing – destroying this planet. Problem-solving is my habit, whether it is a bug in the program or a bug in lives, I try to get to the bottom of it. As I put my thinking cap, I did find something spectacular which makes me believe that the problems that we face today related to traffic, high cost of living is primarily because of the system of check and balance failing. Our economic system is overriding the market forces to give our businesses an edge to keep continuing to use old the traditional method for the production of goods and services whereas forcing citizens to consume and subscribe to the new economic model. It is not fair and It is creating an unsustainable situation.
Google invented Hangout for its subscribers, do they use Hangout to work remotely?
Facebook wants everyone to connect and build a better world, but then why did they build such a huge campus doubling the traffic on Dumbarton Bridge?
Amazon can build a cloud for everyone, what stops them from making their employees work from home.
Capital One has doubled its business in 10 years using technology, but what stopped them from building a virtual team around the world?
Cisco owns Webex, but has it helped its employees go remote?
Working from home is often thought of as a convenience to the employees. It is treated as a perk whereas it should part of the economic model of a company. Apple, instead of building a spaceship campus should be investing in ways where its people can work from remote satellite offices. I often hear how innovative companies need to work together, but these company often give their blueprint in its entirety to companies in a foreign land to build the POC and manufacture them later.
By the way, one might think I am picking on tech companies. But no, as of today most of the jobs created in America require the job to be delivered electronically over the internet and the quality of the job delivered is no different if it would have been delivered at the office campus. COVID-19 definitely has proven the case. The technology of video conferencing is mature, internet infrastructure is robust than ever and there are tools and technology in place to measure productivity.
Working from home or a satellite office should be the new norm. It should be enforced and should be incentivized. The control that the employer looked for in the older economy is no longer useful in the contemporary days. Work has changed so has the work habits. Benchmark of productivity has changed so are the tools to measure productivity. At this point, it is the pure ego of not letting it go that is making companies confine their employees in the cubes. It is not only returning diminished returns to employers, it is also stopping tech companies to invest in innovation that would create a more secured work-from-home platform of the future.
This will open new areas of the business as families will spend more together, retailers will see more walk-ins in the evening. Reliance on fossil fuel will go down, roads will be drivable and have room for our Ambulance to speed up and health care workers can attend to their sick faster. People can work on their hobbies and craft and will be able to sell them as their 2nd job. Most importantly, families will start cooking and a healthy meal is the best thing for a child’s growth. Most importantly, with COVID in mind, it will create social distancing too.
The new economy should pave new ways.