Computers are like miracles. They have enabled so much and brought much innovation to the globe. Thirty years ago, the idea of opening a business usually meant leasing an office or a store somewhere in the neighborhood and offering your services via public flyers, bulletin boards, and other similar means.
By today’s terms, these ideas appear primitive and old-fashioned. Now, we have the Internet and an entire arena of online businesses that people are running from their homes and other convenient locations (remote work, if you will), and social media platforms that do the advertising for us.
This has opened several doors for us. Remote work has increased by approximately 118 percent over the last three years.
Ultimately, this creates “new” work environments for would-be employees and contractors; one of comfort, ease and general familiarity. One is no longer required to get up at the early hours of the morning every day, step into their car and groggily perform their duties in an uncomfortable chair that’s consistently having to be adjusted to meet one’s height and girth. Where’s the fun in that? Work should be enjoyable.
Heck, you’re doing it for eight to ten hours a day, and you don’t need added stress like having to worry about how you’re going to put gas in your vehicle or all those similar expenses that usually come with commuting. No more runs to Starbucks and having to plunk down four to eight dollars for a cup of coffee; now, you can just make it at home. Remote work not only grants you more comfort… It knocks out financial concerns.
That’s not to say, however, that remote work is all it’s cracked up to be, and in creating it, computers and the world of technology have set our economy up for other problems. Mind you, many of these issues are likely to take shape in the distant future; probably beyond our time, so there’s no reason to get too upset or worried just yet.
However, in looking at these issues now, perhaps we can prepare coming generations for the rough transitions that are almost certainly ahead.
What does all of this mean?
If current trends continue as they do, one can easily predict that most work will be entirely remote within the next 20 to 50 years. Minus things like factory and assembly line jobs and the like, most positions (from writers to customer service representatives to business managers) could likely be done from home or another location.
Think about it… A phone and a computer is probably all you need nowadays to get most of your work done, so what does that mean?
For one thing, we may see a drop in commercial real estate needs in the coming years. As time progresses, rental rates for commercial real estate increase drastically, and many are likely going to be drawn to the idea of working from home to avoid spending hard-earned dough on actual, physical locations.
This wouldn’t be so bad except the country (and most of the world, mind you) is littered with buildings and offices. Will they be knocked out or torn down? Will we see empty pockets throughout our landscapes of what used to be?
The thought of this is even more depressing when one considers the fact that many natural resources (i.e. trees and plants) were likely removed and even used in the construction of these buildings and structures. If they disappear, we’ll have destroyed the greater majority of our globe’s beauty for nothing.
Additionally, we could witness poverty rise in certain areas or within certain fields. For example, construction workers and contractors are likely going to experience less work as our needs for commercial buildings continue to diminish. I suppose there’s a chance they could see those losses bounce back into profit through the building of homes.
After all, our population is expected to near 10 billion by the year 2050 (a mere 33 years from now), and all those people will be in the market for decent places to live.
But let’s think about that for a few seconds. For starters, tract houses and similar developments have become much more popular in the last 10 to 15 years. Dwellings are smaller because real estate developers and urban planners must now accommodate larger masses of people, and regions are likely to become more restricted in the process, so while work may not disappear completely, profit and opportunities for those in the construction industry could easily slide in the coming years.
Furthermore, with many of us working remotely (thereby commuting less to work), the auto industry is likely to take a dip as well.
Many of you are probably thinking, “Well, they still have to go out and shop for groceries and tend to daily errands, don’t they? Won’t they need cars for that?” The fact is that enterprises like Amazon now run grocery-delivery services in which food and other goods are personally delivered to your front door, and this trend is only likely to continue as time goes on.
When one company gets an idea, everyone else practically feels forced to copy it… Ever notice that? Netflix comes about and finds quick success with its home-delivery DVD service, so companies like Blockbuster, Game-Fly and others tried to follow in its footsteps. The examples exist if you’re willing to look, but I digress.
With delivery services making a major comeback (we’ll be seeing 1940s milkmen placing jars on our porch once again, it seems), there will be less need for people to leave their homes to shop, which will inherently cut local and regional travel down significantly.
For major travel, well, you’ve already got companies booking people on flights to the moon. How long do you think today’s planes, trains and buses are going to last?
Technology certainly gives to civilization, but it can also take things away. Given the circumstances, we need to be prepared to accept losses along with gains, and perhaps if we foresee these problems now, we can prevent society from stepping into the darkened and savage conditions of an ailing economy early.