I found this article relevant in explaining the effect technology is having on our daily lives. While the article does not focus on the technological impact, it is obvious. The author discusses how people are no longer confined to a building when working, but now you can find them doing their jobs while on the move or simply during their coffee break. I also find this true for inside the classroom. Students are no longer subjected to learning in the classroom as once before. Students can now interact through e-mails or even databases such as Blackboard that makes the retrieval of classroom lessons easy. Students can too find ways to learn on the go.
The author also discusses that the workforce is changing because people no longer prioritize by looking for work then a home. Now people are settling within their homes and then looking for a job in relation to where they live. This proves as time changes and technology improves, the stationary demand or need decreases, and people can now live more flexible than ever. In the end only time can tell if this is better or worse for society! Nicole Harding
By RICHARD FLORIDA Published: June 26, 2010
WHEN I was growing up, there was a strict line between work and life. Every morning, my dad downed a bowl of cereal and a cup of coffee and drove his Chevy Impala from our home in North Arlington, N.J., to the eyeglass factory in the Ironbound section of Newark, where he worked.
Tom Pennington/Getty Images
A Starbucks in Fort Worth. Lifestyles and work styles have blurred to the point that a stop for coffee also offers a chance to tackle important tasks.
Until 4:30 p.m., when he headed home, he never set foot outside of Victory Optical’s premises — not to run an errand or grab lunch with friends, and certainly not to take a walk or to work out at the gym.
Over the past couple of decades, a new way of working and a new kind of workplace have evolved. It began in Silicon Valley, where companies ceded a certain degree of autonomy to knowledge workers, recognizing that too much rigidity could stifle creative output. Khakis and shirtsleeves replaced gray flannel suits. And 9 to 5 sometimes became 9 to 9 or 11 to 1 in the morning. But the time was broken up by espresso runs and bike rides, or ultimate Frisbee games during lunch.
The trend has spread to the point that our lifestyles and our work styles are becoming increasingly blurred. Though my factory-worker father might not have believed it, those people you see hunched over their laptops in coffee shops and thumbing instant messages on their BlackBerrys as they walk through the park are actually working.
This new way of work has given rise to what the sociologist Ray Oldenburg calls “third places” — the Starbucks where we go not just to drink coffee but also to send an e-mail; the hotel lobby where we take a meeting; or the local library where we write a report, edit a document or revise a business plan.
Increasingly, places are supplanting plants — corporate headquarters and factories — as the principal social and economic organizing units of our time. There are several reasons for this.
People used to follow the jobs; they moved where the company sent them. But today, people often pick a place to live first and then look for work. Today, it may be where we live, rather than who’s employing us at the moment, that attaches us to our work and careers.
There used to be a saying in Silicon Valley that you could change jobs without having to change your parking lot. Urban workers today simply switch subway stops or take a different bike path when they get a new job. Especially in tough times, it makes more sense to choose a big city, with its thick labor markets and greater economic opportunities, over a single company.
Certain cities offer specialized career opportunities: Silicon Valley is the place to be if you’re a techie, Los Angeles if you’re an aspiring actor or director, Nashville for music. Other cities are more diverse and offer a wide range of vocations to try out.
One young man told me he moved to Washington after college because he wanted to explore as many of his interests as he could before committing himself to just one. In Washington, he could work for a research organization or a journal, a nonprofit or an N.G.O., or perhaps for the State Department. Or he could go to graduate school.
As it happened, this man’s indie rock band took off. Washington’s club scene, filled with young people with disposable income, provided the perfect launching pad for a career in music.
Despite the hits that Wall Street and the news media have taken, New York remains the center of a diverse and entrepreneurial economy. And regional hubs like Chicago have been sucking up a huge share of the talent and opportunities that were once dispersed throughout surrounding cities and towns.
The metabolic rate of living organisms tends to slow as they increase in size. But cities can achieve a faster rate of “urban metabolism” as they grow, leading to more innovation, economic growth and improved living standards.
Clearly, major cities have a great advantage as this new way of working takes hold. So what can smaller cities and towns do to retain their viability?
All successful revitalization efforts focus on upgrading existing local assets — developing better ties among colleges, universities and communities, strengthening business districts, upgrading parks and open spaces, preserving and reusing old buildings and supporting local art and music.
SUCH communities are rich in resources for working, learning and simply enjoying life. They are places where people can prosper in their careers while achieving higher levels of well-being.
Mass migration from farms to urban centers generated new prosperity after the Long Depression of 1873-79. The expanding suburbs underpinned the great economic boom of the 1950s and 60s. We are now at the cusp of another such far-reaching movement — with the magnetic pull of urban centers strengthening our economy and leading to a more seamless blending of work and life.
Richard Florida is director of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. He is author of the “The Great Reset: How New Ways of Living and Working Drive Post-Crash Prosperity.”
A version of this article appeared in print on June 27, 2010, on page BU9 of the New York edition.