Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Telecommuting and networking

USAToday reports that Yahoo employees will have to work at the office ("Ban on working at home goes against trend").  No more telecommuting. "Yahoo's decision is meant to foster collaboration, according to a company memo sent to employees Friday."

I have mentioned networking often at this blog.  Whereas most of urban economics is focused on commuting and residential location equilibrium, most people make location choices much more complex than journey-to-work-based.

In fact, firms as well as individuals seek locations from which they can manage the various networks that matter to them.  We network from home and at the office.  We network face-to-face, via auto access, via long distance travel and electronically.  We look for places and situations that help us to manage the various networks that matter in our lives.

Firms also manage many networks; they look for locations from which they can do this best.  Firms manage supply chains for goods as well as information.  Individuals manage supply chains for ideas.

The musical chairs that people and firms do as they seek to manage all of their networks gives us the cities we have.  This is all subject to the forces of history and some lock-in effects.  This is why there are no "good" or "bad" city densities.  Rather, there are complex patterns that emerge -- if we let them.

Back to the Yahoo story.  The "best" way to arrange the various networks that matter involves a dynamic process of discovery.  Is Yahoo's new policy re teleocmmuting a good idea or not?  They (and we) will have to see.