The Trouble with
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
CareerEngine.com, Inc. Tom Ferrara. Telecommuters also
miss out on last-minute staff meetings and socializing
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
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 TheStandard.com 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
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
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
Many of the companies want to turn the tables
around by increasing e-commerce revenue, building
customer loyalty, reducing operating costs and accessing
All that's needed now is the discipline to drive
this major change.
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
These soul searchers are still drawn to the dream
of phenomenal success, but part of the draw is the
inevitable challenge of achieving it.