Barbara Larson on how to manage remote teams and stay productive from anywhere
What is the future for remote work and how can we use it effectively? Whether you’re a manager, business leader o →
Urbanization is killing rural villages all over the world. And the new mega-cities are destroying the environment and quality of life. I have an idea how to make this development stop – by creating the perfect community of the future.
It’s the end of civilization as we know it. And it’s one of the largest challenges for most countries in the world.
Urbanization is changing the demographics and economies all over the world. People move to the major cities, leaving the rural areas empty without any prospects for the future. Village houses are unsellable, and rural communities slowly die out, leaving behind only the oldsters and the outcasts. At the same time, prices for housing are exploding in the cities, forcing people to work longer and longer hours in order to make a decent living.
This development is a major challenge for governments all over the world. The major cities are succumbing to the pollution, congestion, and the social tensions linked to rapid urban development. While the authorities struggle to build the expensive infrastructure necessary for dealing with the pollution, sanitation, and transportation requirements linked to urbanization, the cost of running the rural areas also gets relatively higher, because all the taxpayers travel to the cities leaving the welfare recipients in their wake.
The experts all agree. The megacities are coming, and they are here to stay. But I’m not so sure that the experts are completely correct. Allow me to tell you why.
New ways of working and the harshness of mega-city life will make people return to the open skies and the quiet life of the countryside again. In the future, modern technology will allow them to do that without compromising their jobs.
According to a recent survey by ComPsych, 66 percent of workers are living with sustained, high stress levels. At the same time “work-related stress” is now the primary reason why top performing employees in the U.S. are contemplating leaving their organizations, according to a report by the consulting firm, Towers Watson & Co.
Many of the inhabitants of the new megacities would love to quit the rat race to become rural dwellers again. They’re not living in the city because they want to – they’re there because they have to be.
New ways of working will allow them to do exactly that. With new technology, you can manage your job from anywhere. Broadband access, unified communication, video conferencing, and new types of collaboration platforms will give you online access to your colleagues and all the company’s resources, making you productive and able to create value anywhere in the world.
With cheap housing, open spaces, and a low-pace comfortable lifestyle, the old rural areas will be an attractive place for many knowledge workers to start a new, better life. And, I believe they will start doing so in huge numbers within a few years. That is, if we let them.
We must help the next wave of new rural knowledge workers a little along the way, in the same way that the U.S. government inspired thousands of pioneers to conquer the wild west back in the old days. Then, the rest will follow, benefitting societies, the environment, and the quality of life around the world.
While the avant-garde of the modern knowledge networkers are ready to work from a distance, traditional thinking in most companies and rural communities is not yet ready to accommodate their wishes. Most importantly, the idea of working from a distance is not widespread enough. While working from a distance is now considered somewhat acceptable within a few job types, like call centers, etc., most employers are still a long way from taking other job types out of their conventional settings.
Today, modern software makes it possible to manage, create, and produce most products. You can even handle the telephone switchboard, purchasing, and meetings online. The technology to do so is there. All we have to do is kill the notion that you have to be in the same building as your manager to work.
And then, we need to secure powerful internet connections and infrastructure in rural areas to accommodate the next wave of (knowledge) settlers.
So here’s a wonderful idea for any enterprising politician eager to stop urbanization and rebuild the pride and economy of his or her rural area. Why not invest in making a super-creative, hyper-connected local community and see how it will draw talent from nearby major cities? All it takes is a progressive local community, willing to provide great schools, cheap houses, and perhaps a few cultural events; somewhere calm, scenic, and remote. Then, we can add a few technology companies to provide the IT-infrastructure and the hardware and software needed to hyper-connect the citizens. And finally, we add a number of big city companies ready to take a chance with the first vacant positions outside the traditional working-from-home jobs for the new rural elite to apply for.
On behalf of Jabra, I hereby promise all citizens taking part in the experiment a free, state-of-the-art Jabra headset to go with their UC solution, making them accessible anywhere, at any time (keeping their managers comfortable even if they are hundreds of miles away).
It may sound like an impossible dream, but unlike the time when visionaries dreamt of flying like a bird or going to the moon, we actually already have the technology to build this dream. And I can assure you, that if municipalities, companies, and the IT-giants get together and dare to try, we will build a nice, thriving community with lots of happy, stress-free taxpayers in a hurry. Soon, any rural town will be eager to follow. And the world will have changed for good.