Technology in the Wilderness

When the web first started to be taken seriously as a business proposition, advertising agencies jumped on the new opportunities with relish. Ads for every imaginable pc-related device used similar images: workers sitting with a laptop on the edge of a cliff / on a sandy beach in the Caribbean / on a break trekking through the Andes. You’re no longer confined to your desk, connected anywhere, real-time delivery, blah blah blah. If ever you did deign to visit the “office”, you’d be barefoot in shorts and riding a scooter.

Reality Bites, soon afterward

Once the dotcom industry crashed, the immediate reality was longer hours covering the tasks of your newly down-sized colleagues, in a cubicle with a view … usually of other cubicles.

But as business overall settled down, and some of the earlier predicted benefits the web finally came true (increased efficiency, reduced cost, better connectivity …) it’s possible to consider the earlier promises again.

Web Credible fared better, passing Levels 1 and 2 easily (using XHTML 1.0 code) and failing Level 3 only because of links not being separated.

Keeping social space

The main drawback of spending all your time at home – or out in the forest – is the lack of personal interaction with those you work with. Phone calls and emails are part of the communication hierarchy, but until video conferencing is widely accessible – and maybe not even then, given you are still not physically present – will the interaction match that of a typical workplace.

Even so, being ABLE to contact a colleague still takes effort – markedly different from running into someone in a hallway, having an impromptu meeting and having people available within a few steps of your desk.

Combining inner and outer worlds

The problem for many in this variety-obsessed world, is that replacing 5 days a week in the office with 5 days at home only changes the the focus of what we want to change. “Bohemian” types wanting to finish reports on the couch, in a park or a cafe may often be more productive in the environment they feel most comfortable in.

It’s hard to argue that responsible employees, motivated by their careers, would be any less productive given more choice and flexibility than a business suit and 9-5.30, Monday-Friday. After all, most city workplaces don’t offer views like that below.

Lofoten Islands sunset

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