This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

July 8, 1998:

Home-Based Business Neighborhoods

With the increase in people working at home, we forecast some interesting changes in our neighborhoods. House configuration will change. Utility allocations will change. Lifestyles will change.

In the early 1950s we saw the rise of suburban neighborhoods. People didn’t know each other before they moved in, but they soon became close. With shared values and life styles, a strong sense of neighborliness developed. In most families, father worked all day while mother was home with the kids. Mothers talked over the back fence, got together to watch the kids mplay, and participated actively with school activities.

Life in the 90s is substantially different. Both parents work, in most cases, so there isn’t the closeness that comes from constant interaction inthe neighborhood. Homes are built further apart; the proximity and the sameness isn’t there. Neighbors are identified as being "Samantha’s parents," rather than an adult-adult relationship. Parents work long hours. When they are home, they’re family- or self-centered more than neighbor-centered.

The neighborhood of the future may foster closer relationships as more people work at home. While home-based business demand a lot of time, therem is a flexibility that will facilitate getting together with the neighbors . . . who have similar circumstances. Child care, arguably the biggest issue working parents face, may be alleviated by shared responsibilities among work-at-home parents. Parents may have more in common, particularly if their business are similar or symbiotic. You could be a customer or supplier of the folks next door.

As new neighborhoods are built, we’ll see more houses built with specific areas for home-based businesses. In some cases, they’ll be disguised as mother-in-law apartments (which can be fine office areas). Separate entrances will be designed and driveways will have extra parking space for employees or visitors. House wiring will include more phone lines, more electrical outlets, and fiber optics. Some new homes will feature ISDN lines, extensive cable hook-ups, and maybe even T-1 lines to accommodate expansive computer needs. We will see some retrofitting of older homes, providing work for a specialized field of home remodeling.

The obstacle to this modern-day shift in neighborhood design will be municipal zoning codes. Local administrators and legislators have not yet realized, in most communities, the economic, social, stability, and safety benefits of home-based business neighborhoods. workers will increase substantially—from the 1990 to 2000 Census counts . . . and beyond. We estimate that the numbers have climbed far beyond 15 million. A 1997 survey prepared for Telecommute America estimates that the number of Americans "telecommuting" via computer from their homes to their businesses rose from about 4 million in 1990 to approximately 11 million in 1997.

© Copyright 1998- by The Herman Group, Inc. -- reproduction for publication is encouraged, with the following attribution: From "The Herman Trend Alert," by Joyce Gioia, Strategic Business Futurist. 336-210-3548 or To sign up, visit The Herman Trend Alert is a trademark of The Herman Group, Inc."

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