ROWE and City Planning

If more and more people start working from home, what effect will that have on our cities and communities? Will our need for office space decrease? Will traffic lesson, will we need less parking spaces in business districts? Will it strengthen or weaken our relationships at home or at work? Certainly there will be consequences for changing the way we work. Some of them intended, lower cost for office space, higher employee engagement and satisfaction, some of them unintended. What will the unintended consequences be?  

I went to an unconference a few weeks ago that was focused on Gov 2.0 here in San Francisco, CityCampSF. I learned a few things and met some interesting people.  Among them a local city planner. We met for coffee today to talk about how ROWE and telecommuting might affect the workplace as it relates to workspace and city planning. It was an enlightening conversation!  

It never dawned on me that we might have to start planning our cities around these changes in work life. Since cities plan 20 years into the future, it’s time to start planning now. What will cities look like when most of the population can choose where and when they work? Will it change how we build living spaces? Will life become more centered on neighborhoods? Will we see more multipurpose shared workspaces being built?

Ricardo Semler, in his book, The Seven-Day Weekend says, “Working away from the office is an inevitable part of our future. In 1990 only 4 million people telecommuted from home or somewhere else in the US … in 2000 there were 24.6 million telecommuters.” Semco decentralized there office system, they now have satellite offices instead of large central offices.  Semler predicts that as people get used to the idea and as technology evolves that the satellite offices will go away as well.  

If you’ve been working on this issue or have some insights, I’d love to hear about it. What will a ROWE city look like?