Internet freedom crusader John P Barlow says curbs ‘stupid’

John Perry Barlow, the legendary internet rights advocate and Future 500 Senior Fellow, speaks with The Economic Times about Internet freedom in India.

“It is the usual problem where you have a bunch of people who don’t know the environment trying to protect you from things that might go wrong in it. And trying to impose themselves in the ways they can’t,”

Click here for the piece

 

A Breakthrough Solution for Business, Workers and Climate

Did you know that this year the federal government promoted a week dedicated to telework? 

The intent was to encourage government agencies to overcome obstacles and discover the advantages of virtual work.  General Services Administration administrator Martha Johnson explained, “Telework is revolutionizing the way government works, helping us to be more mobile, more agile, more flexible, more productive, and deliver better results for the American people.” Virtual work is ripe for becoming a modern working norm. What will it take to get all employers discover the advantages?  

 
You might hear it called “virtual work,” “telework,” “flexible work,” “remote work” – all refer to work done outside the traditional workplaceCall it what you will, we can no longer afford to underutilize this opportunity to boost productivity, reduce the trade deficit and improve our environment.
 
Technology is changing how we work, and businesses and government are just beginning to take advantage of this change:

·       The Federal government and a growing number of cities and states are encouraging virtual work to reduce congestion, improve air quality, increase productivity and even balance the trade deficit.

·       Companies are embracing virtual work to retain valued employees, save money on real estate, increase productivity and boost their bottom line.

·       Employees love virtual work because it allows them to reduce their commute time, care for children or parents, and improve their focus and productivity.

·       Environmentalists, concerned about climate change, can embrace virtual work as a way to make 40% to 60% of existing jobs greener.

Over a decade of academic research and business experience confirm the benefits of virtual work. Unfortunately, too many employers continue to treat it like a special privilege, and existing programs are often underutilized. Many managers and CEOs are still not fully comfortable with the idea.  A case in point: the government includes virtual work in 60% of its emergency plans, yet less than 10% of government employees work remotely even one day a week.
 
Shifting a significant portion of our workforce to virtual work is win-win.  A Telework Research Network white papersuggests that

less than 2% of U.S. employees work from home the majority of the time (not including the self-employed), but 40% hold jobs that are compatible with telework. If those employees who wanted to (about 80%) did so just half of the time (roughly the national average for those who do), the national savings would total almost $650 billion.   

http://www.teleworkresearchnetwork.com/whitepapers 

The Nation would:

- Save 289 million barrels of oil–equivalent to 37% of our Persian Gulf imports

- Reduce greenhouse gases by 53 million tons/year–27% of the President’s 2020 goal

- Reduce road travel by 115 billion miles/year saving $2 billion in road maintenance

- Reduce road congestion thereby increasing productivity for non-telecommuters as well

- Save 100,000 people from traffic-related injury or death

- Improve emergency responsiveness

Businesses would:

- Increase productivity by over $235 billion 

- Save $124 billion in real estate, electricity, and related costs

- Save $46 billion in absenteeism

- Save $31 billion in employee turnover

Individuals would:

- Achieve a better work-life balance

- Recoup 2-3 weeks of free time per year–time they’d have otherwise spent commuting

- Save $2,000-$7,000/year

- Save $15 billion at the pumps

To be sure, not every employee is well suited for virtual work…nor, for that matter, is everyone is suited to spending all day working in an office.  We should have a rich menu of options available to make work fit both employees and employers.  We call this the “custom fit” workplace. See-  http://customfitworkplace.org/ 

As one key element of the custom fit workplace, virtual work transcends the political divide, and offers clear benefits to all stakeholders. The fact that this opportunity lies outside of most political dynamics means it could be possible to make dramatic progress now.  In describing Telework Week, Martha Johnson pointed out that it was, more than anything else, an opportunity for employers to experiment and learn. “Telework Week plays an important role by giving employers and employees an opportunity to test their telework capacity, identify possible gaps in their IT backbone, and build their mobile work muscle.” 

But let’s not stop with experiments, the research confirming the benefits of telework is powerful, now it is time to turn policies into practices. The facts are clear: every business in America should consider how virtual work might improve their bottom line.  Lets make this National TeleWork Year! 

 

Joan Blades is an author, co-founder of MoveOn.org, and co-founder MomsRising.org which is dedicated to, “bringing millions of people, who all share a common concern about the need to build a more family-friendly America, together as a non-partisan force.”

Potentially a real wild card for the 2012 Presidential race?

OK, Americans are frustrated. No matter what we seem to do we can’t get things to go even close to how we think they should go in Washington.

True, we are a divided electorate, and much of the current political ugliness can be laid at the feet of the American people who just like to argue.

We don’t agree on lots of things. We are liberals and conservatives, libertarians, and greens, but even though we disagree on much, there is one thing most of us can agree on.

Government, especially the electoral process, is broken.

The people at AmericasElect.org think they may have found at least part of the solution for the upcoming presidential race. Frankly if they pull it off it borders on revolutionary.

In the New York Times, Thomas Friedman explains how it will work.

“Thanks to a quiet political start-up that is now ready to show its hand, a viable, centrist, third presidential ticket, elected by an Internet convention, is going to emerge in 2012. I know it sounds gimmicky — an Internet convention — but an impressive group of frustrated Democrats, Republicans and independents, called Americans Elect, is really serious, and they have thought out this process well. In a few days, Americans Elect will formally submit the 1.6 million signatures it has gathered to get on the presidential ballot in California as part of its unfolding national effort to get on the ballots of all 50 states for 2012. “

 

Click here for the rest of Friedman’s column.