With oil approaching $150 a barrel and consumers wallets emptying out way too fast, IT departments will need to get ready to support many more tele-workers (or remote workers). You would think at this point - with all the Green Think and the traffic congestion in most metro areas - that companies would have opted for tele-working by now. IBM is pushing for it. We have ways of monitoring people remotely (just look at an online Driving class). We also have collaboration suites, web conferencing, shared whiteboard, email and IM, and Blackberries. People are connected -- maybe too much.
This also brings up another matter. Employers aren't really paying you for 8 hours. They are paying you for the productivity you produce in 8 hours. Now this rules out people in call centers or customer service positions who are being paid to "be in a chair" for 8 hours at a shift. But I look at my last project where I was commuting to and from Chicago on the Sunday-Friday schedule, when a majority of my work could easily have been completed remotely. Just because the supervisors want people in Cubeville doesn't mean that's ultimately the best idea.
Talent Acquisition (and management and retention) are the largest obstacle for growth. There wouldn't be a fight to raise the number of H1B Visa's if skilled workers were plentiful and easy to find. It's tough to re-locate workers in a soft real estate market to. Jane can't move if she lost 20% value in her home.
Warren Buffett commented on the US economy stating that we were already in a Recession and that ”It will be deeper and last longer than many think.” Add a credit crisis, foreclosures, increased costs of living, less pay, no savings, dwindling home values, and the pot doesn't look to good. Employers will have to help employees out -- or else give big raises to keep employees commuting 46 minutes on average.
Creativity thinking will be needed. You would hazard that with broadband, Unified messaging, Web 2.0 apps, and SAAS, it shouldn't be that much of a stretch to have employees work from home a couple of days per week. But you better coordinate with your IT department because those are the guys who will have to make it happen (and work).