Ditch the Commute: Cyberspace Is New Workplace

Thousands of U.S. workers sit in dreary cubicles every work week, after extending travel times and eagerly awaiting their next weekend.

But, for some employees the future of work has arrived with no commute, no corporate headquarters and maybe no office in the physical world at all. They have ditched the daily grind by conducting their business in cyberspace.

"These days we do so much by teleconference it really doesn't matter where you are," said IBM employee Bob Flavin.

Like 42 percent of IBM's 350,000 employees, Flavin rarely works from an IBM office, and that's fine with management.

"We don't care where and how you get your work done," said Dan Pelino of IBM. "We care that you get your work done."

IBM said having a mobile work force saves the company about $100 million a year in rent. But for now, it's holding on to corporate headquarters.

Headquartered in Cyberspace

The marketing firm Crayon is headquartered in cyberspace and its workers rarely meet in the physical world.

But their alter egos in the virtual world gather once a week.

"Our belief is, if we bring like minds together no matter where they are in the world [then] we can actually create that connectedness as if we're actually at the same place at the same time," said Crayon CEO Joseph Jaffe.

Workplace of the Future

Some companies still haven't embraced the idea of actually skipping out on the physical workplace, but they have given employees more choices about work.

Trends like summers off, cyberlocations and more flexible work time are expected to increase as baby boomers begin retiring in larger numbers, according to workplace experts.

Jackie Pham is a teller for PNC Bank in Cincinnati and gets summers off to be with her children. While she is away, the bank hires college students as fill-ins.

"College kids, like me, can come and work over the summer where they can't really work during the school year," said college student and bank teller Adriene Brozzetti.

And for those who would rather fly away when winter comes, drug store CVS has a program.

New Jersey pharmacist John Johns is part of the CVS snowbird program, an arrangement that lets him work winters in Florida, where he loves to boat, and summers on the Jersey shore, where he spends free time with his grandchildren.

"You come back up here and everything is new again," he said. "It's like every six months we have a whole new lifestyle."

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