Future of Work = Future of Living (4)

Imagine living in a place where your children walk to school and run to the park without cars in the way.

Imagine living in a place where the farmer who grows your food is a neighbor.

Imagine living in a place where Mom and Dad work just a 10-minute walk from home so they can be home for lunch and help in the classroom.

Imagine living in a community where everyone walks and talks with their neighbors.

I call this the 10-minute community.   Every daily routine is a just a 10 minute away. No more wasted time and stress in car traffic. This is how we lived 100 years ago and how we will live again in the post-industrial economy.

The hallmarks of the industrial economy – large factories, huge office buildings, processed food and long daily commutes to work – are in a word “unnatural”.   In the digital economy, where people can work remotely or in smaller offices, Millennials are demanding more “natural” ways to live.  

In 2018, The Global Wellness Institute published a comprehensive report (‘Build Well to Live Well’) on the $134 billion invested in 740 communities around the world redesigning how we live.   The Executive Summary begins with the problem statement.

The report also captures a vision that is gaining traction.

This connection to wellness is relevant to the Future of Work as the digital revolution is changing the balance of power between government, business and individuals.  In his book 2019 book The Gift of Global Talent, Harvard Business School Professor William Kerr writes:

 “IT talent is the world’s most precious resource.  In the knowledge economy, talented individuals are the center of economic performance. Unlike a harbor or coal mine, this resource is quite moveable.”

Individuals are often in driver’s seat in the global competition for IT talent. This talent, which can work from almost anywhere, is increasingly gravitating to locations where they find high-quality lifestyles and reasonable tax burdens.

The mobility of IT talent is supported by statistics.  The technology sector of the US economy has a higher employee turnover rate (13.2%) than any other sector.   In some of the highest value software occupations, the turnover rate is over 20%.  

Even Facebook and Google recognize that stock options and high salaries are not enough to retain employees.  Google has committed $1 billion to provide housing for 11,000 employees on it’s secret new 50 acre campus in San Jose.  Facebook shared it’s vision to create a whole new community of housing, parks and entertainment on their Menlo Park campus.

Twenty years ago, the internet was promoted as a great democratizing force.  Sovereign Individual was published 1997 by a Silicon Valley tech writer that has been remarkably accurate in predicting the social and political changes of the digital revolution. I created my own Sovereignty Scale to depict the changing nature of power as we have transitioned from the industrial age to the digital economy. 

In 1970, we lived in a world of closed borders, limited communication and wealth concentrated in physical assets such as oil reserves and large factories.  Power was concentrated in central governments and energy companies.    The individual did not have a voice in economic affairs.

In 2020, power and wealth are concentrated in technology businesses and IT talent.   The places IT talent chooses to live, really determines the fate of local and national economies. This phenomena has raised the influence of local governments who have capacity to build prosperous tech economies by offering healthier living environments than crowded, dirty, expensive big cities.

As nations, cities and businesses compete for IT talent, we are moving into a world where the individual is a distinct sovereign power.   As Millennials demand healthy, safe and clean communities to live in, real estate will become an essential component in the Future of Work.

In the Future of Work, thriving businesses will invest in bringing wellness into the everyday lives, homes and communities where their employees live.

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