Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Virtual workers of the world unite!

I work for a large multi-national firm which has its head office outside Philadephia and my division is headquartered outside Washington DC. But I live in Steamboat Springs, three hours drive from the nearest office in Denver, where I have never been. I'm what my company calls a virtual worker.

This is something that has been talked about for a while now, but I suspect many people are inclined to dismiss it as a niche phenomenon. Well a little while back Routt County, where I live, commissioned a study to identify what proportion of its residents work for an employee that is not located here. The answer of 10% surprised even me, but in retrospect it shouldn't have, especially given that Steamboat is a very attractive place to live but has a fairly narrow local employment base. There's plenty of jobs for retail clerks, construction workers, coal miners and ski instructors but not people like me who have a deep specialisation that can only generate returns in a national or global market.

How many people go to an office every day and spend most of it behind a computer screen or on the phone? Don't they have these things at home?

If this is you, ask yourself the following questions. Can I live without the commute? Am I living here because it's where I really want to be, or simply because this is where my office is located? Can I live without the endless hours spent in pointless meetings? Can I live without needing to wear a tie most of the time (ok, I hate ties).

Then ask your boss why you're not a virtual worker!

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