If I were still working at a law firm, I would demand to be able to work at home whenever I could. Why? Energy prices and recaptured hours.
The main reason I created my own gig was because I needed that flexibility. A 120 mile commute was not working for me.
But what if, instead of 1-2% of people working from home, that number went up to 10-20%? What would happen to the commercial real estate market? That's one of the thought-provoking questions in this post by Lisa Michelle Galley.
I have two observations:
First, prices would take a dip for sure. Supply -- demand, blah, blah, blah. But then developers would stop building until demand caught up with supply. So there's an additional lag and no new construction for a bunch of years. People in Chicago know all about that -- how many years did we go without a new high rise?
Second, not everyone can do this. Certainly my wife as to go to the office and the hospital and people have to come to her (although when I was a kid both my pediatrician and my dentist worked out of their homes, come to think of it). And many retail and service based industries have to do the same. But phone-based customer service people? Consultants? Lawyers? Accountants? The demand for an office is not as compelling in 2008 as it was in 1988 in my opinion.
The big obstacle was always IT. But gee, these days you can almost always call in to a computer to fix a problem. I have that ability and I use it all the time. (Ironically, however, a friend of mine who works for Citrix told me the other day that he always seems to be in his office!)
I'd personally like to see this, maybe because I took the plunge myself. On the other hand it may not be as good for business as I'd like.
PS: imo employers should also encourage the policy as well as flex time and 4 day weeks when possible. I think anything to cut back on energy demand is good for the country and the economy right now.