Blog Post

Rebooting the Workforce

After nearly two decades of working in an office, I recently decided to strike out on my own. You might have read about it. And almost overnight, the proverbial cubicle walls vanished, and I became part of a growing number of folks who work from cafés, home offices, or just about anywhere.

Broadband, as I have written in the past, is freeing us from the geographic restrictions. Will this trend continue to gain momentum? Hard to say, but early indicators show that office is where the laptop is.

The new virtual worker – equipped with a laptop, a broadband connection, a mobile phone and a desire to live a sockless lifestyle. Brent Simmons and Nick Bradbury know what I am talking about. Whether it is chasing your own dream, or part of the distributed team, the meaning of work is changing. It is for many of us who might work for say Yahoo or a Google, and use EVDO cards to stay connected, working as we ride the Caltrain.

With this change, come other realities. On a more personal level, deciding when to switch between personal and work time has been a challenge. Being productive when the easy chair beckons can prove to be a devil’s choice. Interaction, or the lack there of, with others is a constant challenge. How do you fight off the cabin fever?

What are the best tools and what is the right gear to stay in touch with your team? How do you motivate your distributed teams when you are all dispersed all over the planet? The answers for these questions are hard to come by, and it was precisely for these reasons, we are introducing a new group weblog/community, Web Worker Daily.

The idea for this community stemmed from reading posts by Greg Olsen, and talking to Niall Kennedy, who is the latest to Go Bedouin. Helping curate and manage this community of virtual workers is Jackson West, who is the lead writer for Web Worker Daily. (His thoughts are here.)

Joining in the effort is the entire GigaOM team, and lots of special friends. I would like to thank 1Lotus for coming up with a beautiful design on such short notice; and WordPress team for making sure we were ready for launch on Labor Day.

While we will write about tools you can use, what we really want is your stories. How you work? Your personal tool kits, your workspace, and just simply your story – anything that would help us web workers be more productive, happier and of course, the collective that is rebooting the workforce.

84 Responses to “Rebooting the Workforce”

  1. Congrats Om, very interesting and timely topic. I hope that you will have a tips and tricks resource section – including new useful hardware and software for the nomad worker… including suggestions of non-standard configuration and and where these “gadgets” might be bought (good for your referral revenues :-).
    My experience of trying to glean information about EVDO ExpressCards for my MacBook Pro the other day left me with a frustration that there was no relaible resource on the topic.

  2. Hi Om,

    Nice idea for a new blog.

    I’ve been working sans office for nearly four years now. The tools I rely on: Powerbook, iSight, tri-band mobile, Skype and Skype In (the last part essential for establishing virtual office cred anywhere in the world!).

    Every other part of office life is just a state of mind……(don’t get me started on not having to attend office meetings!)

  3. Om, what a great idea, made even better in my mind by the fact that I too am in the situation you find yourself in — for the first time in my working career, I work from home, airplanes, cafes, hotels, trains and cabs. Almost everywhere but an office.

    The challenge is not only staying connected technically (although this is a HUGE challenge), but staying in touch in a professional manner. Pets, kids, doorbells, traffic, piped-in music at Starbucks, room service waiters, nearby cell phone chatters, and yes, the easy chair, are all enormous challenges to the distributed workforce.

    I wonder if there are technological solutions to these problems….


    Cynthia B.

  4. Om,
    Great Idea. I am still guessing that you are upto something really bigger than this. Your post about rural Washington being wired + some call center relocated to Oregon on GigaOm makes me wonder if you are championing the cause of Broadband-Work-(in|out)Sourcing.


  5. I’ve been a fan for a while. Congrats on the move (and the freedom from the cubicle).

    I blog from a cafe, while traveling in the car (passenger of course), my backporch and all over the house the rest of the time. The most difficult thing to do is to keep yourself organized. An office IS a prison, but it’s an organized one LOL

    If you can just stay disciplined and organized you’ll be fine… Good luck, glad to see this new blog!

  6. Perplexed in Peoria

    Site looks fantastic. Look forward to following along. Couple questions.

    1. Your tag links point to the tagspaces and not to your own (or Technorati’s, etc). Is that intentional? Just curious.

    2. Om to Mike Arrington: “Thanks Mike, appreciate the kind words… hopefully it [WebWorkerDaily] will become a valuable resource to us.” Uh, fair enough, but can we please pretend we’d like it to be a valuable resource *for us all* before we start with the inside-the-bubble moneyspeak? Just for, like, one day?

  7. Great new site. Not only do you seem to cover emerging technologies and trends, but in doing what you do your part of the steering and crystallization of them. Having started this blog is just one example of that. Congrats!

  8. Great new site. Om, not only do you cover emerging technologies and trends, but in doing what you do you’re part of the formation and crystallization of them as well. Having started this blog is just one example of that. Congrats!

  9. Om,
    Great concept, I’m excited that you’ve launched this, I’m sure it will ease many of my daily web worker hassles!


    PS. I would love a write up/review/recommendation of laptops for us virtual workers. My IBM/Lenovo X40 is frustratingly slow, but served me well over the last couple of years and I’m shopping right now for an upgrade and I dont know if there is a new product about to launch. Cnet and others didn’t help me too much.

  10. Awesome! Finally there is a website for me. I’ve been living the ‘digital nomad’ lifestyle as I’ve been calling it and it has been a huge blessing. I’ve been able to travel the country, set my own hours, and live life to the fullest. Plus, I’m my own boss. You cant beat that!