Remodeling the Electronic Cottage – Reponse

Response to an article from the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Inc.

What’s interesting about the use of the “cottage” terminology is it, to me, references “cottage industry” where people work independently to bring their “goods” to market. I suspect that for many people, who are comfortable with their niche in a larger organization, they are likely to feel alienated in a primarily telecommuting environment. However, I believe the author misses a key opportunity.

If employees acclimate themselves to working from home, it seems likely to me that those that are successful at it will expand their productivity to include other processes, new initiatives and new methods.

Perhaps the greatest potential outcome is that these individuals begin to offer their services to other individuals in addition to their employer, or completely evolve and specialize their niche service to offer it entirely as their own product, branded or unbranded. This can then lead to them needing additional persons to meet demand, and their “electronic cottage” becomes a “electronic cottage industry”.

3 thoughts on “Remodeling the Electronic Cottage – Reponse

  1. It’s an interesting article. I think you describe a trend that is indeed occurring: the separation of the worker from the place of work. From what I can see, it seems like this is bringing about the rise of a class of “consultants” who before were employees of a firm who were able to parlay their skills outside the firm and can win independent contracts for the same kind of work. One caveat: while consultants may or may not receive higher fees than they would have as part of a firm, they likely do not get most of the benefits from full-time employment with a firm: health insurance benefits, “job security”, workers comp, and the like. Just a thought.



  2. No question, self-employment most likely means that traditional workplace benefits must be acquired through other means, but I would counter that this would be exactly the switch in mentality that is required to shift American’s perspective on healthcare delivery from a “warranty” model with a monthly payment to a consumer model that would drive down costs.

  3. And I would counter that taxpayers are entitled to a “warranty” (guarantee?) model. You mention that a consumer model would drive down costs, but isn’t a consumer model what we have now? Or are you advocating increased co-payments to deter frivolous medical tests and treatments, where most of the cost burden is placed on health care receivers? To achieve this doctors need to not be scared of getting sued for not prescribing tests, scans, or medicine. But to end those lawsuits, we need tort reform. And that ain’t easy.

    But back to the “warranty” model. Aren’t the places with the most efficient health care systems places with single-payer systems, i.e. Canada and Western Europe?

    While the rise in consultancy has its costs and its benefits, lets remember that the process we are seeing take place can be considered as a form of corporate outsourcing that shifts the burdens I mentioned earlier – health care, workers comp, etc. – from the firm to the individual worker (which often ends up costing the government because individual’s can’t afford their health care). And that allows corporations to increase their profit margins at the expense of the taxpayer.

    Health care reform is complicated, that’s all I know.