The joys of being able to work from anywhere

The Economist

Today’s model of entrepreneurs and contract workers descend from the older model of “telecommuting”. That concept became popular thanks to stationary telecommunications technologies like the landline phone, the fax and dial-up internet. But workers were still tied to a place – the home office.

The main difference between yesterday’s telecommuting and today’s contract worker is the mobility that allows a gregarious and flexible work style. Recent technological advances, such as Wi-Fi hotspots at public buildings and local cafes have been crucial, for this new model of self-employment and contract work, as have other innovations such as email, mobile phones and instant messengers.

At Sun Microsystems, more than half of the workforce are part of a program called “open work”. This is a program in which employees have no dedicated desk, but work from any that is available. “Sun’s workers love the flexibility, stay with the firm longer and are more productive.” says Jonathan Schwartz, Sun’s chief executive.

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