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On the Modern Road: Today’s Mobile Workplace

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Route 66

Historic Route 66 is one of America’s legendary roads.

Among the classics of American literature is the novel On the Road by Jack Kerouac. On the surface it details one man’s journey across America in search of himself, and more importantly of a deeper meaning to all that is around him. The answers aren’t always clear, and to be honest many of them require making an effort to view them as through the author’s lens, yet generations have done just that.

The novel was an inspiration for many after it was published in 1957, during the time of the Beat Generation. They took to the road, much like the book’s main character. Hitchhiking was commonplace then, with crimes against hikers less of a concern than they are today. The novel was also one of the defining pieces that cemented historic American highways, like Route 66, into popular culture. That trend continues today, just without the hitchhiking. It also often involves the entire family, which is a marked departure from Kerouac’s vision.

This departure is made possible through a combination of factors, all of which have contributed to empowering those who are brave enough and have the tools and financial means to follow their own road. Those factors are as follows:

Freelance Workplaces

Breaking Free

Breaking free of the workplace…

Companies like Elance have made their mark on both pubic and private entities, enabling managers and company owners to source freelance talent to their advantage. Contrary to popular opinion, hiring freelancers usually isn’t to reduce employee overhead so much as it is to improve the talent pool available to an organization. For example, locally, a programmer or writer with specific talents might not be available for a part-time assignment, but internationally there may be hundreds with the exact skill set needed. Because of the flexibility this gives both companies and workers, it lets a single business entity develop a wide range of projects concurrently, from a single location, independent of the actual workforce. That means freelance talent can truly be free, never needing to enter an office or maintain ties to any physical workplace.

Recreational Vehicles

The 5th Wheel Home

Moving into a 5th wheel is next…

Bish RV pays a tribute to historic Route 66 and provides some information on the “5th wheel,” which, despite the name, isn’t actually an uninvited dinner guest. Rather, the trailer is so named for the large fifth wheel a camper trailer gets hitched to in the back of a truck bed. These trailers are popular because they feature king and queen size beds, washers, dryers, and even entertainment centers. Many are far superior to the average apartment, and both the truck and RV can be had for considerably less than a similar-sized flat. Plus they’re maneuverable, allowing camper or truck repairs to be made independently. This means that if something breaks, you’re not on the street waiting for repairs. For the mobile traveler of the modern road, there is no substitute. Form, function, and most important, the portability necessary to support a lifestyle free of traditional tethers.

Universal Internet Access

Dump The Desk

Finally, dump the desk connection…

Despite its reputation for not always accomplishing much, the U.S. Government has actually done quite a bit to improve standards of internet access and reliability across the country. The FCC’s Open Internet Standards have contributed significantly to this. The technology and connectivity that have evolved as a result of these and other initiatives have made high speed internet connectivity possible across much of America. High speed internet and mobile connectivity let mobile workers stay connected, irrespective of their location. That connectivity is fueling a workforce that has turned over nearly a billion dollars, according to Elance.

This has created a new generation of mobile workers, and mobile families, with everyone taking to the road. Work is done on the fly, and the only schedules to meet are usually as flexible as travel routes. The Beat Generation has changed. No longer is it just one man or woman alone on the road, connecting by brief collisions of chance. It’s an evolved generation. They’re connected, and moving towards a more global and more free workplace every day.

Featured Image: The Road
Article Images: Route 66, Breaking Free, 5th Wheel, Dump The Desk 

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About Henry Buell

A world traveled analyst, Henry has lived through political upheaval, revolutions, and war. He writes from a different perspective, with a passion for life, tempered by experience. More information can be found on Henry Buell's website.