Walter Cronkite in the Home Office of 2001 (1967)

If the Future of Telework is Today, Why are we so Far Behind?

In 1967, Walter Cronkite was spot on in portending the role of 21st Century technology enabling people to perform office work from home.

“With equipment like this in the home of the future,
we may not have to go to work.”

It’s amusing to watch the iconic news anchor showcase the futuristic computerized communications console that was envisioned. It’s tough not to chuckle about the number and size of the devices that all together now fit in the palm of our hand. Those who were fortunate to watch their color T.V.s during this CBS Show’s original airing probably felt giddy about the future for American workers: less trips to the office, state of the art access to news and information, and the dawn of a new era for American office workers.

Today’s personal computers, laptops, and mobile devices allow people to work anywhere they have access to the internet – home, a library, a coffee shop, the beach. If technology is so much better today than what was dreamed of in the past, why aren’t more of us teleworking?

  • Between 2006 and 2010, only four percent of Thurston County workers reported they work from home (American Community Survey Data). Most of these workers are home-based businesses – they don’t have another office to work at.
  • The number of employees who actually telework away from an office building as government or private sector professionals is less than two percent! (2011 Washington State Commute Trip Reduction Data).

Today’s workplace culture continues to present barriers to telework, keeping it the futuristic concept that it was over 40 years ago. Most of these barriers stem from managers not having the resources to supervise employees they cannot see. Increasing the number of people who can regularly telework presents opportunities for how we develop our communities, changes that perhaps Mr. Cronkite couldn’t have imagined.

Reducing one trip to the office just one day a week is a 20 percent reduction in travel time and travel costs. This reduction can have a real impact on reducing traffic congestion, air pollution, and office expenses for government and private businesses if more people could telework.

Stay tuned to ThurstonHereToThere.org for more telework articles from February through March.

Consider taking a pledge to telework during Telework Week from March 4-8.

Learn More

For more information on telework visit: