“Mr. Toffler predicted a world where people would live and work in what he called the “Electronic Cottage”

Mr. Clair, my high school English teacher, based a lesson on the book “The Third Wave” written by futurist, Alvin Toffler, in 1980. Mr. Toffler predicted a world where people would live and work in what he called the “Electronic Cottage”. The new technology would allow employees to efficiently telecommute to work from anywhere in the world. Costly office buildings, and long commutes, would no longer be the norm. Cloud-based applications and online shopping were already driving the world to enjoy the benefits of the Electronic Cottage. Stay at home regulations during COVID-19 area; have accelerated the adoption of this new way of doing business.

Without technology, this new paradigm would have not been possible. Web conferencing, social media, cloud-based business software, and global telecommunication networks have made this new way of work an option. Technology itself will not result in a transition. People will need to accept this new way of doing business

Social media has already acclimated people to remotely communicate and share information online. Traditional business etiquette needs to be adjusted to fit the times. I have surprised by how quickly this has happened. It is not uncommon to hear children, lawnmowers, and dogs barking during web meetings. During one call I could hear a chicken clucking in the background. It didn’t affect productivity in the least. It actually provides a form of “ice-breaking” at the start of the call.

This new way of business will force EDOs to reevaluate how they support and measure their effectiveness. Questions such as:

  • Repurposing empty office buildings
  • Measuring job creation for jobs created when a local company hires remote staff in another region of their local creation
  • Calculating jobs “retained” when employees live outside of the EDO’s area of coverage
  • Adjusting the calculation of multiplier effects of offsite jobs

There are always naysayers when significant changes are implemented in the economy. These changes have happened for centuries and continue in the years to come. Successful EDOs will adjust and learn to take advantage of them for their stakeholders.

I have tried to locate Mr. Clair for some time. If anyone knows where he is, please thank him for pushing me to think outside of the box. As Alvin Toffler, he was way ahead of his time.

Todd Smithee (email tsmithee@conrin.com) (phone (616) 897-4325)

President

Conrin, Inc.

www.conrin.com

Salesforce.com CRM for Economic Development. It’s All We Do.