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Dispersed Work Hubs

Travel to work is a big environmental and social issue. Working close to home has numerous benefits. This suggestion is related to Melbourne but would have application in a lot of cities around the world. The suggestion was originally posted on the Future Melbourne 2026 website in February 2016.

Propose that offices be set up around Melbourne City in the suburbs. These offices would be available for workers and companies to use instead of commuting to City. Ideally these would be within a couple of kilometres (or a few more) of where the worker lives. The work hubs would be set up by private companies and be available for a number of other companies and public service organisations to use at the one time, with desk space being rented. Ideally there would be multiple people from the one company / organisation in the work hub - so there would be checks on attendance and to also satisfy the social aspects of work, even though the worker's immediate boss and co-workers may not be in physical attendance. Communications with bosses and colleagues would be via Skype type face to face teleconferencing at the desk as well as voice and text - and the occasional visit to head office. These days most office work is done on computers and with more and more cloud based computing access to the systems and data used for every day work should not be difficult to arrange. All the technology for this is available now or if not will certainly become commonplace over the next ten years (by 2026).
 
These dispersed work hubs would need to be started by large organisation(s). Probably big public service organisations may be less risk adverse. Big insurance organisations might find this model workable with a large number of people answering telephones queries from the public who don't really all need to be in the one central office provided they have the IT systems available. If it was shown to be successful more, and more diverse, organisations would jump on board. They need to be big as it would be ideal to have at least five people - preferably more - at the hub. For example they could have a hub at Moonee Ponds (a middle suburb of Melbourne) close to the rail station - so transport to HO would be available. If a company had say 20 people working out that side of town, close to Moonee Ponds, they might set up their own office. If a smaller, as suggested, shared private offices with rented desks may be a good option - which would provide greater flexibility.

It would also be viable for places like Werribee (an outer suburb of Melbourne), which has significant peak period transport congestion on road and rail to Melbourne City CBD. While I am sure Wyndham City Council (of which Werribee is the main centre) would like to attract the head offices of businesses (and will do so for some), these suggested dispersed work hubs may be suitable for a business that still wants to have their head office based in the City, and it would have advantages for their employees (convenience, travel time and cost) and the businesses (lower office rentals and potentially more staffing being available and happier staff). The time of a business having to have all their employees in the same place has passed.

This suggestion is an alternative/compromise to the sometimes touted working from home telecommuting which largely addresses the main perceived problems of attendance to work (that is slacking off) and the possible social isolation of home based work. I have also discovered a similar arrangement operating in some parts of the world known as co-working. It seems to be used by groups of like minded individuals getting together in a work place rather than companies.)

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