Interview with Jack Nilles

Portrait photograph of a man with a grey beard and glasses

Jack Nilles invented Telecommuting nearly 50 years before the Covid pandemic forced its wide scale adoption on many of us.  In 1973, Jack initiated a study of teleworking from dispersed hubs to test the thesis that there was a “Telecommunications-Transportation Tradeoff” that would not only get automobiles off the road but save companies money.  The thesis was proven, and a sound business case established for an insurance company test case.  However, it did not happen!

In an age when one might have expected coms and computing technology to be the barrier to enabling heavily paper based operations across multiple campuses, that was not so: management and union politics were the blockers that only gave way temporarily in the following 40 years in the face of crises like petroleum famine and earthquakes.  Perhaps now the pandemic has given staff a taste for home, which might mean it is here to stay. Much of Jack’s academic work was about forecasting the future impact of technology but accurate prediction of the uptake of teleworking proved difficult.

A physicist and engineer by training, Jack made the achievement of the environmental and economic benefits of telecommuting a continuing mission, alongside his other professional and academic interests. 

Jack Nilles was interviewed by Tom Abram on 9 June 2022 via Zoom.