A NASA Engineer Made Teleworking In Light Of The Oil Emergency

In the midst of the energy crisis and the high rise in prices , we find ourselves in the need to look to the past and look for those methods that made us stay afloat. Strategies linked to the habits that helped contain spending and improve the economy and that today would give us a boost to face this dizzying moment.

In this context, there are two contemporary trends that are part of the current collective debate: teleworking , as a product of the Covid-19 pandemic; and the energy problem , due to lack of supplies of all types of fuel generated by the war between Russia and Ukraine.

What might these trends have in common? Both, and without so many warnings, had a historical milestone in 1973 that made them accomplices during the Yom Kippur War, which brought with it one of the biggest economic and energy crises in the world.

The person responsible for the symbiosis of both trends 40 years ago, NASA engineer Jack Nilles . He was the one who used the concept of teleworking (coined by himself) as a response and economic strategy to the fuel shortage that occurred in the United States in 1973, as a result of the oil embargo of Arab exporters.

Given the bleak energy scenario of the time, Nilles wanted to contribute with his experience. It was then that he analyzed how companies could save money during the oil crisis in the North American country. Thus he raised the idea of ​​”bringing the work to the worker” and not vice versa. With that you could “reduce” the use of the car and fuel.

Hybrid work experiment
“Usually people in Los Angeles drive to work at an office, somewhere downtown, but what if workers didn’t need to get in their cars to get to work?” Niles asked. “Working from home could replace the need to travel.” And so began the world’s first large-scale experiment in the hybrid work format .

Along these lines, in his study called Telecommunications-Transportation Tradeoff (1976) he argues that “if one in seven workers did not have to travel to their workplace, the United States would not have the need to import oil”, which became a strategy to face the energy crisis of the moment.

Telecommuting concept
With the aforementioned, he devised the concept of “telecommuting”, with which transportation and pollution problems were reduced , in addition, by applying this new trend, the quality of life of workers and their productivity improved. In this way, the engineer called the concept “part-time telecommuting”, which mixed remote work days with office days.

” I helped NASA put a man on the moon , so why couldn’t I do something about the horrible crisis problem?” said Jack Nilles, now 89.

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