ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum

Online Edition - January 2001


Surviving in The New Economy: From virtual workplaces to technology overload, this special feature takes an in-depth look at the changing demands of our workplaces and world.

  In This Issue...

Celebrating the Power of People
Tricks of the Trade—Unique Tranining Ideas
Views For A Change
Pageturners: Flawless Consulting Fieldbook

 One From Column B —
I Will Survive

 Peter Block explains why the new economy is just an economy, and why our relationships and our senses promise survival .

  Surviving In The New   Economy:

Working In A Virtual World
Defining The New Economy
Penny Sanchez- Burruss and Barry Johson, Ph.D

The 24/7 Work Invasion
Info, Info, Everywhere!
Brief Cases
Tips: It's About Time and Finding Time


Return to NFC Index

   Brief Cases       Highlights of the Latest Business News

The Trouble with Telecommuting

The new economy has altered the way we work, how we work and even where we work. Just a few years ago, telecommuting seemed to be the wave of the future. Yet recently the luxury of working from home seems to be fading in managers' eyes.

  A recent Wall Street Journal article stated that although businesses have outwardly promoted telecommuting, many are reluctant to hire employees who favor flexible schedules.

  "Many bosses believe telecommuting weakens corporate loyalty and causes resentment among in-office employees," says president and chief executive of, Inc. Tom Ferrara. Telecommuters also miss out on last-minute staff meetings and socializing with coworkers.

  Ferrara also states that managers recognize the appeal of telecommuting to prospective employees and often falsely advertise job openings to lure applicants. Other companies are unapologetic about rejecting telecommuters as they stress the importance of people working side by side sharing ideas.

  Job seekers feel that it comes down to a matter of trust. Boston public relations consultant Dawn Silvia says, "They're all saying the same thing: 'We want you here, at a desk where we can watch you and trust that you're doing your job.'"

Not on the Net

Try to think back five years when the Internet was just a glimmer in our eyes. You knew it was going to change the business world as we knew it, but did you ever think it would dominate it? Try to imagine your life today without it. How would you stay connected? How would you run your business? How could you research?

  According to and a report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, approximately 94 million American adults do not use the Internet-that's half of the 188 million adults living in the United States. Nearly 57 percent of these non-users have no intent of going online.

  Many think that the Internet is dangerous and confusing. Economics also plays a role. More than two-thirds of low-income homes do not use the Internet, while 22 percent of high-income households are online.

  Even more interesting is that an estimated 12 million of non-users once had access to the Internet, but no longer use it. Some say they don't use it because they lost access and some because it was no longer useful or interesting to them.

  So, when planning business models based on the growth of Internet usage, remember to think of ways to reach the other half of Americans who are happy without it.

Mind Your E-business

E-business has been moving full speed ahead, but companies are having a hard time keeping up. According to a recent study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers and The Conference Board, companies are progressing with e-business strategies, but lacking in other areas.

  The organization studied 80 leading companies in the manufacturing, financial services, energy, retail, communications and transportation industries. Nearly all of the businesses show sales of over $1 billion.

  Of the companies polled, 47 percent dedicate full-time units to e-business development and more than two-thirds said they have a systematic, strategic approach to Internet-based efforts. Yet half of the companies polled said they have no method of determining the success of these programs.

  These companies realize the power of the Internet, but don't know where to start tackling the project. "It's important to remember that despite how quickly e-business has changed the landscape, it's still a new paradigm, especially for large organizations," says Cathy Newman, deputy global e-business leader at Pricewaterhouse-Coopers, New York. "It's not surprising that even the most enlightened companies may be facing disconnects with their e-initiatives."

  Another problem involves what companies are investing in. Only 25 percent said they plan to invest a significant amount in online communication. Many said they would mainly invest in "internal e-communications."

  Many of the companies want to turn the tables around by increasing e-commerce revenue, building customer loyalty, reducing operating costs and accessing new markets.

  All that's needed now is the discipline to drive this major change.

The Really Early Midlife Crisis

As the new economy goes through a reality check, so are the hoards of 20- and 30-somethings who have experienced endless success during this time. These fresh minds put their heart and souls into their companies when the possibilities seemed endless,sacrificing their social life, health and personal well-being.

  Now, putting their noses to the grindstone has them dealing with issues most people don't confront until spending decades in the working world. They're burned out and dealing with mid-life crises far too early.

  The Wall Street Journal recently cited Jeremy Wolf as one of those employees who took on more than they could handle right out of college. After graduating from Columbia Business School, Wolf accepted a job with an Internet developer based in San Francisco. From the beginning he felt as though he was wearing too many hats, which disabled him from having the social life most people his age enjoy. His company was no different than many of the other start-ups, and Wolf decided to move on. He has no idea what he'll do next, but says, "The reality is that I've been chasing my career. I've been doing this to speed up and I finally need to step back and say, 'What's important to me?'"
Wolf isn't the only one giving up on a fast-paced lifestyle. One dot-commer left the tech world at the age of 25 to become a teacher, and a 29-year-old millionaire took up racecar driving.

  "They feel they bought into a dream, but the dream didn't give them what they thought [it would]," says Rev. Greg Cootsona of the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York. "I think people of this [young] age are looking for something deeper than the rat race."

  The new economy has brought Internet time to every aspect of our lives. Twenty-somethings are achieving their dreams long before previous generations did, only to find them unsatisfying. They're receiving riches beyond imagination, sparking the question, "Is this all there is to life?"

  Every generation faces these issues, but along with the success comes the highly-publicized rejection of the new economy busts. This crash is an unexpected wake-up call as this generation experiences failure at full force-and for many of them, this is their first taste of failure.

  For some, this life-altering experience leads them to seek spiritual fulfillment. Hard times typically bring people to church, but the Rev. Paul Len with Marble Collegiate Church in New York feels that "people have lost their way much earlier."

  Others return to the stability of larger corporations. In fact, Andersen Consulting recently wrote letters to ex-employees promising special benefits if they returned. At least 108 of them accepted the offer.

  These soul searchers are still drawn to the dream of phenomenal success, but part of the draw is the inevitable challenge of achieving it.

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