Why do we have to endure the daily grind to work when the technology is out there for us to work from somewhere other than from behind a desk, asks Maldwyn Palmer.
One of the greatest mysteries of living in the UK is why do we have to drag ourselves to work every day.
The technology has been available for ages for most people to work from SoHo units, but the frustrating journeys have not abated.
Broadband offers release from polluted roads and dirty carriages, but all to no avail. Mobile phones and Wi-Fi also have their parts to play.
Governmental social engineering has also been a failure. Companies may take advantage of regional cheap offices and grants, but at the first whiff of trouble they scoot back to the metropolises.
Is it the prestige of being in the right postcode or fear of being in the outback?
The advantages of reducing travel times for social and environmental reasons are very transparent. Are we such pack animals that we need to congregate in buildings? Obviously we are.
Manufacturing plants were the exception and were happily stuck in the middle of nowhere and now they are even further afield.
Instead of building 20-lane highways and houses on top of each other in the same areas, surely it is time to have a serious debate on decentralisation.
If the technology can be distributed then so can business. Companies could have small units throughout the country or share offices with others. We may need to swarm, but it could be in small towns and villages and not concrete deserts.
Management would also have to evolve. The old adage "if I can’t see ‘em then they ain’t working" will have to be more attuned to results and not appearances.
The UK is ideal for change with its largish population, good technology and robust market system. This island has always been very innovative in design but slow to capitalise on its potential.
Perhaps now is the time to change our infrastructure and prepare ourselves for the new millennium we now occupy. If part-time work was more available locally and costs lower, then maybe outsourcing to other countries would not be necessary. The advantages are so many that it seems mad not to seriously change our outlook on work and the population.
Software and hardware are always proclaiming that their next upgrade will offer so many advantages on the old product - perhaps it is time to upgrade our society?
What do you think?
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Maldwyn Palmer was one of the first people to use the C programming language in the UK. He wrote the original mobile phone texting software for Orange and ran his own consultancy during the dotcom boom. He now writes technical articles and humorous books.
This was first published in July 2003