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The unasked question is why must people commute to the center cities to work?

The interesting thing is that about 50% of the auto traffic is now from one part of the island to another and not into NYC. There are similar instances elsewhere. Stamford Connecticut and other nearby cities now have many of the office facilities that would have been in Manhattan previously.

Decentralized office parks are now common, but the need for mass transit to service them from suburban sprawl has not been addressed. In fact, there seems to be no simple way to handle this type of dispersed traffic pattern.

You answered your own question. It's true that telecommuting could handle some of that, but plenty of people will either have to or prefer going into an office. From what my friends say, working from when you have kids is pretty bad for your productivity, and some just find it difficult under any circumstances. If you live alone it can be pretty isolating. And my impression is that the bulk of the most recent office development outside the City has been either way, way out (dirt cheap) or in the satellite urban areas like Jersey City, Bridgeport or Stamford which have rail.

by MarekNYC on Fri Jun 13th, 2008 at 02:15:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
From what my friends say, working from when you have kids is pretty bad for your productivity, and some just find it difficult under any circumstances.

When I was a graduate student I had a choice of working in my flat, in my office or in the library (as well as some other places). Sometimes I preferred to be in the library even if my office was quiet, just because the location influences your attitude to work.

Nowadays I also find too many distractions when working at home, and when I have to work from home because of the child I get very little done.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 13th, 2008 at 02:37:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A few years ago IBM set up empty office suits. They were equipped with phones, copy machines, computers, etc., but no staff.

When you needed office services you went to one of these sites and took over a cubicle for the day. Everything was networked so you could do whatever you would have done from your home base (which was eliminated).

I don't know if this caught on, or whether it still exists, but I don't think the main idea was ecological, it was to make workers feel even more interchangeable and dispensable. It also prevented building up any community of labor, especially when IBM was trashing its existing benefits packages.

I think they partially lost an anti-discrimination suit over some of these practices.

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Fri Jun 13th, 2008 at 03:02:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
An office isn't simply a desk and a computer - it's a place where you form social relations that serve as help on your job, informal coordination, and a motivating social environment. Many people's productivity would be greatly diminished if they were not motivated by the constant overlook of their peers...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri Jun 13th, 2008 at 03:08:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I always find the opposite - I'm roughly twice as productive at home as I would be in an office, and the lack of commute time is also a big plus.

Offices are where people gossip, plot politics, run covert popularity contests, intrude on each other's sonic space with phone calls, typing, radios, and other distractions, and waste time in unproductive meetings.

They're fine if you score in the top couple of standard deviations on extraversion, but for anyone who needs a quieter environment they're unpleasant white collar battery farms.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Jun 13th, 2008 at 03:17:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You happen to live alone, right?

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 13th, 2008 at 03:38:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you like what you are working on or don't you ?

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri Jun 13th, 2008 at 04:00:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Also, is it the kind of work that can be done by a single person?

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 13th, 2008 at 04:09:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I like some of what I do, and don't like other parts. I spend a fair amount of time on email and the phone. There are collaborative elements where I have to agree things with other people, or make plans or suggestions, or decide deadlines.

I'm not doing a lot that I wouldn't be doing in an office - but I am dealing with a small number of people one to one instead of trying to get decisions by committee, and I also have the time and space to get on with projects without distractions.

I have occasionally worked on-site for half a day or a day, and I always find that whatever I'm trying to do takes at least twice as long.

I think offices work for campus-style collaborations, or for studios of various kinds. But considering the commuting, energy and building costs required to run an office, I'm not so convinced that they're excellent value for money for most people.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Jun 13th, 2008 at 04:31:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It was the social relations that IBM was trying to prevent, the unions and the pending class action suit were foremost in their mind at the time.

Do people who collaborate remotely as on this site feel alone? I probably have more in common with bloggers I've never met than with many of my neighbors. (It's hard to tell, most of them never stick their heads out of their houses.)

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Fri Jun 13th, 2008 at 04:15:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
rdf:
A few years ago IBM set up empty office suits.

Weren't empty suits always a key part of IBM culture?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Jun 13th, 2008 at 03:12:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think IBM was famous for gray flannel suits.

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape
by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Fri Jun 13th, 2008 at 04:12:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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