Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Today's Model Entrepreneur May Be Tomorrow's Average Guy

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Today's Model Entrepreneur May Be Tomorrow's Average Guy

Article excerpt

Simstar Inc. President David Reim is "an entrepreneur of the '90s," wrote journalist Steve Kaufman in the San Jose Mercury News.

"Working with four Macintoshes in the bedroom of his Sunnyvale (Calif.) apartment, he is building a company that makes interactive multimedia software for health care patients." As the company's only employee, he teams up with independent partners. "I simply view myself as a general contractor who manages his subcontractors over a computer network," he told Kaufman.

Norman Macrae, former deputy editor of The Economist, was among the first to foretell a de-massified world, with most commerce performed by entrepreneurial enterprises. In a recent speech in Mexico City, he opined on the future of work. Most labor, he claimed, will be accomplished by free agents utilizing advanced global telecommunications and computer networks.

Macrae depicted the mythical McGonagle family in 2020, living in a community (who knows or cares where) run by a Dutch insurance company. The insurer offers them a contract _ guaranteed levels of environmental cleanliness, personal security and other measured services in return for a fixed property-tax rate. Problems with their child lead the telecommuting McGonagles to consider moving. To start the process, they survey a raft of community contracts available throughout the world.

Sound loony? I'm not so sure.

In the United States alone there are already 7 million part- or full-time telecommuters, according to Management Review magazine. And the UCLA Institute for Industrial Relations reports that contract workers comprise 24 percent of the current corporate payroll _ heading toward 40 percent by the end of the decade.

Sure, a lot of that contract work is a thinly disguised effort to buy labor without paying costly benefits. But the fact is, corporations are becoming unbundled, and work is being untied from the office.

"The future belongs to. . .self-employed, project-focused, knowledge-based specialists," California-based consultant Charles Skorina claims. "Corporations will. . .retain a small cadre of managers to hire and coordinate the activities of project specialists."

"People will work at different places at different times and may not necessarily do the same thing from week to week," Cornell Professor Franklin Becker told Management Review. "In the coming millennium," the magazine concluded, "the idea of arriving at an office at 9 a.m., parking yourself at a standard rectangular desk and remaining confined there until the workday is complete will seem as archaic and incomprehensible as that of using an old IBM Selectric does today."

And more: "The unskilled, single-task factory jobs that helped build the middle-class lifestyle for generations of American workers have been steadily disappearing _ automated out of existence, lost to foreign countries, or. …

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