Web Squared and the Economy of Work

It was a wonderfully restful and labor-less Labor Day weekend and I’m appreciative that this week’s a relatively quiet one. The O’Reilly and TechWeb teams are tending to the frontlines in D.C. launching Gov 2 Summit & Showcase, and the program for Web 2 Summit is solid with the schedule going live on the site this week.

Having made the shift to virtual employee, I’ve been traveling extensively these past few months – reconnecting with family, friends and experiences – and I’m very slowly formulating a new work-from-home routine.

This morning I caught up on Google Reader and proved that the early bird definitely gets the worm. It was rush hour in the laundry room this morning and I thought – Why are so many people interested in doing their laundry on a Tuesday? Wait. Why are so many people home on a Tuesday?

Reflecting on the weekday goings-on I’ve subliminally observed I realize that there are actually a ton of people in my complex who work from home. Neighbors pacing while on courtyard cigarette breaks and shouting obscenities to their blackberries while rushing back to their wifi’d apartment.

I find it humorous that I left one cubicle but still work out of a box on the 2nd floor of a really big box filled with other home-workers, just like me. It’s just a different way of work.

A few weeks ago I sat in on a Web 2 Summit briefing call with (program chair) John Battelle and Maynard Webb, current CEO of LiveOps, former President of eBay and board member to Salesforce.com. John was brainstorming a panel concept: Web Squared and the Economy of Work – taking Web tools to increase efficiency in the ‘workplace’ and within the process of how business gets executed.

LiveOps is a virtual command center – servicing enterprises with mission critical customer service points – call centers and agents. They are a virtual company working with virtual employees – simultaneously helping their clients recruit and nurture the best employees for the right job, regardless of location.

Just start with the world of global – what do you want from a quality and cost stand point and get the best worker – not based on location, physical properties. We set so many artificial limits around work that we don’t need to do anymore. Technology and Social Networking has allowed this evolution / growth. People have learned to stay connected even though they are geographically dispersed. The technology exists to allow us to do this very well.

– Maynard Webb

Maynard wants to revolutionize the way of work – the same way he revolutionized commerce while at eBay. And he’s doing it around the demands of the people. He says,

The world of work is changing in a BIG way, since even before the meltdown. The days of paternalistic companies are long gone.

At the start of 2009 I predicted that although layoffs are terrible when basic needs are a challenge to meet – hopefully it’ll be the start of a more reflective and passionate economy of global workers. People might try to discover that there are other options out there that could offer a better work/life solution to the battle all office monkeys face. I also predicted an increase in volunteerism, for the same reason.

My friend at a large Canadian retail shop shared that instead of salary increases the entire company (about 200 people) got an extra week of vacation as compensation for 2009. That was interesting to me and a well-respected decision: people feel appreciated, get more personal time, and projects will still get done – maybe even faster with less wasted time in the office.

This rant – what’s the point? Well, as a member of this ‘new economy of work’ I have to say I love it. And if more employers gave their folks options I bet many would take less money for the ability to work virtually, and be happier doing it. So you boost morale and possibly increase group / project effectiveness, and save corporate overhead on rent.

Comforting to know I’m not the only idealist who sees the value in this. Yes, many people work better in a set office environment, but many don’t. All companies should give employees the virtual option. This transfers responsibility for success onto the employee – you can always cut your losses if it doesn’t work out.

Additional Web 2 Summit Economy of Work panelists include –

Liam Casey, founder, PCH International – who’s leading the charge in ‘just-in-time’ supply chain management. What does that mean? Production based on exact demand, limiting capital losses and risk in unpredictable markets. Based in China they are also the manufacturers of the Chumby.

Josh Green, founder, Panjiva – a database of all overseas suppliers that analyzes raw data about port shipments provided by US Customs, part of the DHS – to help find trustworthy and complimentary trade partners.

You may think a “work” panel might not be the sexiest thing on the Summit agenda – but I’m looking forward to hearing what these gents have to say. Scheduled for Thursday, 10/22 the panel will be filmed and posted to the Web 2 Summit blip.tv channel.

About janetti !

curious curious curious.
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