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FuturTele4.doc-13May99-For Bank Dresdner
This light-hearted, humorous chapter predicts the future. It is written by the author of The Economics of Teleworking, as if looking back from the future to the present day. It makes some interesting forecasts and speculates on where telework will lead society. The references, map and facts it contains about the present are reliable data.
The Transition from an Industrial to an Information Society.
Multi-Media History Lecture Module 8 - The growth of
Delivered by Mr Noel Hodson via
(Download speech, text, graphics and video, in any language, for 5euro$. Say INTERNET, MMLM8-ICUE-HODSON to your Intel-implant-chip & specify language at the prompt. NB Edu-Costs are deductible expenses for global-tax purposes and are automatically notified to your taxing authority).
From 1988 to 2008 the rapid growth of telework in
First, we need to look at an Industrial Economy that exemplified the
transition from an Industrial to an Information Society.
When Boris (The Eternal) Yeltsin seemed to die for the third time in May
2001 and was yet again resurrected, appeared on CNN and sacked his Prime Minister
and entire government for the fifteenth time, the miracle was ascribed to the
healing properties of Pure Russian Chernobyl Vodka (PRCV). Within days, the
global demand for PRCV was so great that the price per bottle hit 26 thousand
Euro. Governments around the world ditched their gold reserves and bought PRCV,
making it the world’s hardest currency. PRCV Bonds and Futures Certificates
underpinned the global financial system until
Throughout the chaotic decade of 1988-2008,
Telework, or telecommuting, started 40 years ago in 1980 when Jack
Nilles at the state traffic authority in California realised that around the
World, every work-day, about 450 million people travelled an average ten
kilometres to work, taking about an hour, and every evening, before supper,
they all travelled back again - for another hour. The weight of the vehicles
used to transport these hapless commuters was more than 500 million tonnes. If
parked on a square kilometre, the vehicles would form a stack six kilometres
high, about the height of
But ten years later, in 1990, both in the EU and the
Germany, recognising the road to the future, hosted The First European
on “New Ways to Work” at the then empty Reichstag building in Berlin, in
November 1994; a gathering of 300 elected representatives and telework
promoters (n.b. the reunited German government moved from Bonn to Berlin in
The Mayor of Berlin welcomed the technology enabled trend towards flexible and tele-working but she expressed concern for the impact on home and family life if people stopped going out to work. Baroness Seaar summing up the conference, echoed the Mayor’s concerns saying that in her youth, when men went out to work and women stayed at home, ladies were very clear about family & work boundaries, vowing that “we may marry them for Better or for Worse ------ but not for Lunch”.
A study by marital psychotherapist Pauline Hodson following her paper “Bringing Home the Electronic Baby” 1996, cited the case of a husband who switched from daily commuting to working at home. His clear thinking wife banned him from the house for set hours each day, on the basis that real men were not at home at such times. He would often stand outside in the rain until she allowed him back into the house.
The new societal protocols that evolved between 1999 and 2005 (work
sponsored by the Dublin Foundation for Living and Learning) & (see publications of The Work,
Information, Society and Employment[ W.I.S.E.]
The Car Commute was King until the 2003 Gridlock Catastrophe
Family adjustments were the least of the barriers experienced by early teleworkers. Many traditional employers abhorred the new regime and resisted any changes to the status quo. In 1993, the Chief Executive Officer of a 200 man UK consultant engineering firm (most engineers were men in those far distant days) when asked to reconsider the role of the company car, instinctively grabbed the startled telework adviser by his tie and tried to throttle him.
The company car was then the prime status symbol of workplace hierarchy.
The company car was finally dropped as a status symbol after the Great
European Gridlock in November 2003, when an estimated 180 million vehicles took
33,000 people died in their cars, which was considered a tragedy until
it was realised it matched the statistical normal death-rate and that in fact
they should be celebrating that 150,000 fatal road accidents had been avoided.
The surface of the Route Peripherique, in
The Autostrada del Sol, a private
toll road, remained closed for five years with all the vehicles locked in,
while Italian courts considered claims by the owners against drivers for
blocking the road - and by drivers against the owners for not keeping traffic
moving. The loss of productive time
Now, of course, status in 2021 is indicated by home-office equipment, access levels at the Cyberspace-Office-Head-Quarters and by how many youth-rejuvenation-programmes the company provides. The most successful executives at the top of the hierarchy are typically 86 years old, look about 25, and have 300 tetra-bytes of RAM surgically implanted under their scalps, linked by an optic fibre aerial to the company Intranet. Though young looking, they tend to be a little bit creaky over the 100 metre hurdles and swallow a handful of Viagra-Super-Megaboost-Plus before they go out on a date.
As history confirms, the family problems and resistance from traditional
managers were eventually overcome and the telework population grew rapidly as
computer-telephony halved in price and doubled in power every two years. By
2000, at the turn of the Millennium, there were over 15 million
These numbers were tangentially confirmed in a 1999 survey by NOKIA,
then the largest mobile phone maker on Earth, that showed: - on March 31st
1999. Mobile Phone Subscriptions - Finland 62%; Norway 52% - Sweden 49% -
Iceland 42% - Denmark 41% - Italy 39% - Portugal 36% - Luxembourg 35% - Austria
31% - Switzerland 27% - Ireland 26% - Netherlands 26% - Greece 24% - France 21%
- Spain 21% - Belgium 21% - Germany 19%. (n.b. at that time, Deutsche Telecom
call charges were still the highest in
The most reliable telework statistics for 1998 were gathered by the European Commission project DIPLOMAT, the European Charter for Telework. Displayed on a map, using the old pre-Union political boundaries that existed at the time, the picture was as below:-
Note - This map dates from 1999, before the formal reunification of East
What the 1999 figures revealed was a large difference between the national statistics for teleworkers and the industry statistics for mobile phones. Given that the majority of mobile phones were then owned by people who had jobs, even allowing for the 1999 fashion for children and vulnerable older people to be given a mobile phone, it would seem that the extraordinary increase in workplace communications mobility was not being regarded by statisticians as “location free, advanced communications enabled working” - one of the definitions of teleworking then in vogue. This difference was hardly surprising as the rate of change was so fast that no institutions and very few individual observers could keep pace with it.
At the same time as German teleworkers were recorded at only 200,000 people - just 2.1% of the workforce - and as having 19% of subscribers (homes) owning a mobile phone, Deutsche Telecom led the World by publishing, in January 1999, a telework agreement for their 210,000 employees, endorsed by the employers, employees and trade unions, and paving the way for a large surge in numbers of teleworkers.
As “working where you live - and living where you work” became possible
and fashionable, all jobs that could be made location free were freed from
fixed, central offices. This shift in
travel habits at first boosted the traditional car industry as people bought
vehicles for leisure rather than for commuting to work. But as they cut down on
commuting and on business travel and therefore cut down their annual
kilometres, people kept their cars longer, changed them less often and cared
less about the status they inferred. A
Fewer cars were sold, fewer cars were made, more cars were shared and new models became smaller, lighter and more fuel efficient; leading to the current 2021 concepts of plastic utility vehicles, for every citizen to use - achieving 85% use of a vehicle’s lifespan, with almost pollution free propulsion.
By 2015 most jobs that could be teleworked had been converted, and the daily commute was a distant memory. About 60% of the 165 million EU workforce worked via computer-telephony in 2015. As traditional heavy industry, agriculture and manual work was increasingly automated and jobs in those sectors declined, The other 40% worked in the service-sector dealing face to face with customers, such as in Hotels, Cafes, Theatres, Sports, Health Care, the few remaining Retail Shops, Face-to-Face Training and in Laboratory Teams. Politicians still physically gathered in parliaments in 2015, but communications technology became so user friendly and secure that even the most Machiavellian politicians started to use it in preference to secret meetings in the corridors of power.
The transformation was not without pain and crises. The signals were
very clear in all OECD countries as long ago as 1990 that computers and
automation would decimate jobs in banking, financial services and in heavy
As soon as powerful personal computers enabled every citizen to count and to follow economic models, global transactions and added-value chains, the mysteries that had surrounded profit and money for thousands of years evaporated. Prior to the publication of the “2002 European Global Guidelines on Profits, Rewards, Taxation, Privacy & Banking” conventions, Income had been a less acceptable subject for polite conversation than Incest. What people earned or took as income and what they owned or would inherit were still, in 2001, topics carrying the strongest social taboos. With 21st Century technology at everyone’s fingertips, the general population demanded accurate 21st Century information about the economic systems that governed their lives. Subject for the first time in history to public scrutiny, all the hidden inefficiencies, inflated margins and secret siphons were examined and corrected. At long last the financial money-economy was brought up to date with the real-economy, the majority of people in the World were included in the money-economy, markets were hugely enlarged and wealth creation exploded. Poverty was all but abolished by 2017.
What had been a global cartel, the financial services industry, employing
over two million people in the
As heavy manufacturing was fully automated alongside financial services,
the resulting unemployed were encouraged into self-employed teleworking and
marketing their labour across the world. Millions of previously employed
tax-payers were thrown into the maelstrom of self-employment and furnished with
advanced communications technology. Those who earned money rapidly discovered
that a solo-teleworker in, say,
National treasuries were in chaos. It all came to a head in 2011 when a
census purported to show that the tax-resident population of Panama exceeded
the workforce of France and that Malta claimed 400 million resident and
domiciled tax registered citizens, who qualified as Domiciled as they all
claimed to have the intention to be buried on the island - requiring a land
mass the size of Spain. The crisis for
tax collections in all OECD countries led to the sudden launch of a new global
currency, EuroDollarYen (EDY) requiring all citizens to convert their balances
and at the same time explain their source and tax status. The massive tax collections and money
confiscation that followed more than compensated for the previous years of poor
treasury income, but the nations involved took many years to agree on their
shares of the revenues. The Global Fiscal Responsibilities Convention signed in
Bookkeeping and accountancy were obviously suitable for teleworking as transactions could easily be notified by telephone data transmissions, processed and forwarded to any office on Earth. Teleworkers found they rarely needed to physically attend central offices, particularly with the growth of Cyberspace-Head-Quarters, open 24 hours a day and accessible as a virtual person from anywhere. Teleworkers began to form communities of special-interest-groups, often based on hobbies, such as mountaineers, or gardeners, or skiers, or skin-divers, etc. and bought houses in areas suitable for these hobbies. The rich diversity of today’s devolved communities grew out of these experimental communities.
One such group that failed was the apocryphal city of chartered accountants. Supposedly located in or near Denmark the population grew rapidly as hundreds of thousands of Chartered Accountants, shunned and mocked as boring by Monty Python and by generations of their own country-men, found peace, tranquillity, respect and balance in a remote district, somewhere in the Nordic countries. The plan was flawless - by gathering all the accountants on Earth into one place, they would create a monopoly and cartel that would handle all global bookkeeping and accounting transactions. At first it is thought that the city flourished but sadly the early promise was not maintained and the city disappeared into the mists of time. Historians speculate that the accountants could not breed and produce children; or died very young - possibly of boredom; or were infected by a peculiarly virulent computer virus that crossed the Intel-implant/brain barrier; destroyed their trail-balances and control-accounts and with them, their will to live. It remains a tragic mystery.
No mystery however surrounds the fate of the City of
Teleworking, from its earliest days along with computerisation, freed mankind from the tyranny and manacles of the production line in factories and offices. Now, in 2021, most factories are computer controlled automated facilities, many underground near to raw materials, that are switched on and off in response to just-in-time-stock control instructions, by managers perhaps living hundreds of kilometres from the factories. Citizens are free to live wherever they like - enjoying the same financial, taxation and social security systems as they would in their countries of origin. Bureaucracy and government is infinitely subtle and complex, managing hundreds of devolved European regions, catering for a multitude of local community preferences under the umbrella of necessary global agencies. The transformation to an Information Society will never be complete - but it has reached a most satisfactory plateau.
© Noel Hodson,
8 copyright Noel Hodson SW2000 Telework Studies
copyright Noel Hodson SW2000 Telework Studies
The Author, Noel Hodson, has 30 years accountancy experience, was an employer and entrepreneur, specialising in long term tax-planning. He has advised more than 5,000 SME’s and has been a telework consultant to British Telecom and the European Commission for ten years. He wrote the Economics of Teleworking (BT Labs 1992) and Teleworking Explained (Wiley & Sons 1993) and is widely known for his seminal work on the Costs & Benefits & Ecological Impact of telework. His WEB Site is Http://www.NoelHodson.com Here he differentiates the facts from the fiction in this chapter and identifies the forecasts that he believes will really occur. In order of appearance:-
Present Day Facts - Page
2 - Prof. Hochgerner did carry Cash from
Future Forecasts - Page 1 - Telework will force radical
economic and political changes. The boss-employee relationship will be replaced
by a collegiate culture. Computer telephony global compatibility will be
achieved. - Page 2 -
Transport Energy 1MB
Darn Cat 1MB
 Jenseits Der Grossen Transformation - Arbeit, Technik und Wissen in der Informationsgellschaft - Josef Hochgerner - Locker Verlag - April 1999, Centre for Social Innovations, Vienna.
 JALA International and TAC (teleworking advisory
 Telecommuting Review - monthly magazine 1984 -1999 Editor Mr. Gil Gordon. email@example.com
 The Economics of Telework - BT Martlesham Laboratories
1992. & Teleworking Explained -
WILEY & Sons,
 Contact Andrew Page, organiser of the Berlin Conference - by Email: Protocol@ECTF.org.uk
 The Age of Unreason - Charles Handy - Arrow ISBN
0-09-975740-0 & The Empty Raincoat - Charles Handy,
 Bringing Home the Electronic Baby 1994 - Pauline Hodson
 Contact the
 See Telecommute Review, January 1999. www.gilgordon.com
 Provided by Walter Paavonen, Paavonnen Consulting AB,
 The Global Trap, ZED Books, by Hans Martin & Harald Schumann - Der Speigel journalists. October 1997.