Thursday, September 21, 2006

Part Time Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh needs to do better job of anticipating the future. I recommend embracing mobile labor markets. The region could establish leadership on this front building the requisite infrastructure to serve the Mobile Class (WiFi downtown is a step in the right direction), but restructuring business practices should be the location of the most dramatic changes. Splitting time between two home bases is becoming increasingly feasible and even desirable. Employers are beginning to catch on to this trend:

It turns out that Thompson's employer, Carondelet Health Network, offers what many believe will become, as the population ages, the hottest thing in job benefits since the 401(k): seamless employment in two or more places.

Most workers taking advantage of those programs are so-called snowbirds, who live in the North but flee the freezing temperatures from January through March. For a lot of reasons, the population of working snowbirds is expected to explode over the next few decades. For one thing, baby boomers are just beginning to enter their Florida years. Many are determined to keep working on their own terms--some because they want to, others because they must.

I offer that Pittsburgh-centered businesses co-locate in key Burgh Diaspora locations. Workers could own homes in the relatively cheaper Pittsburgh and rent apartments (perhaps at the company's expense) in the other city for use when face-to-face interaction is necessary. Workers could spend 3 days telecommuting from home and then 2 days at the office in another region. A business could invest in shell outposts in the network, with Pittsburgh serving as the hub.

2 comments:

John Morris said...

This fit's my own ideas in terms of attracting artists. I think for a lot of people, spending a month or two a year of hardcore studio time in Pittsburgh while keeping thier main places in NY would be very apealing. You could buy a relatively cheap place and rent it out the rest of the time.

I think that there are a huge number of artists who are sort of not tied to any particular city. In fact the curator's of the last Whitney Biennial ( of American art ) found it so hard to pin down who was an American artist that they decided to make it an international.

J Scott Hamilton said...

I would set up the accommodations a little differently. The corporate Pittsburgh location should invest in a gasthaus for visiting employees, similar to a corporate hotel. Then let the telecommuters reside wherever they want at their own expense.

Scott