Free to be Digital in the Big City

I am a West Virginian — born and raised. I have never been away from my mountain home for more than a few weeks at a time my entire life, and I wouldn’t have it any other way, but… I am also hungry for technology — internet everywhere and the faster the better. I yearn to be mobile, unchained from my desk! Oh, the drama, the horror, but I digress because I am seeing a change in the city of Charleston and its people, which has me excited about technology’s role in this state, in particular. The idea of working from anywhere is starting to take root and slowly grow into something greater than the seed of promise planted in my mind years ago when I chose IT as a career.

Over the past few months, I began to notice an increase in the number of people downtown carrying mobile devices and a shift in these devices from laptops to tablets. As I sat in the Town Center Mall making use of their free Wi-Fi, I began to look around and notice a growing number of other individuals around me with tablets and laptops, even paper files, and I suddenly realized that I was not alone sitting in the center court. I was sitting in an open public area, working alongside a dozen or so other people who were, at the same time, enjoying a cup of Starbucks coffee, taking in the warm rays of the sun, and listening to the relaxing sounds of the fountain. The change has found its way to Charleston, and is being embraced. The Town Center is not the first place in Charleston to offer free Wi-Fi. Many restaurants have offered it for years, but this was the first time that I had noticed people actually working someplace open to the public where we didn’t feel obligated to buy something while we worked. It made me smile. Then it made me think.

Some parts of Charleston have begun projects to provide free Wi-Fi to the public, like the one I read about several years ago on Charleston’s East End. Charleston isn’t the only city in the state where this kind of change is happening, and it is likely not the first. But, it has been something that I have noticed more people taking advantage of lately. And, as I travel throughout the state, it is catching on like wild fire. What kind of impact would free Wi-Fi have not only all over Charleston, but throughout the state on the way we work? Would it improve productivity, or lower it. Would it cause offices to get smaller or close all together? I really don’t know. I think it would certainly change the culture of our offices and how we communicate with each other, which might be a good thing. Certain aspects of inter-office communication would become more electronic, like an increase in email communications. And, working socially in a public environment might spawn new face- to- face connections that create new business opportunities. Who knows? The possibilities are endless. What I do know is that I like the idea, and I am excited that people are embracing the idea of working untethered to an office, desk, and phone (cellphones excluded).

I would like to challenge you, my readers, to think about and comment on how you think cutting the cords that tether workers to their desk in our state might impact your business. You can comment below on our blog site;, or on our Facebook page at;

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