In a recent interview, Governor Rossello predicted that Puerto Rico could be a center for the human cloud. Jobs are less geography-specific than they used to be, he pointed out. That means that Puerto Rico could provide a high quality of life for entrepreneurs and workers alike, without limiting either to physical presence in an office or factory.
“The human cloud” has been used at least since 2015 to refer to the distributed workforce — people around the world who perform tasks wherever they are, using the power of the internet to collaborate with one another.
Some commenters worry that the human cloud can create a virtual sweatshop, where workers are paid poorly for tasks and have no benefits or job security. But there are many different options within the distributed work force. U.S. software company Automattic, for example, employs 700 well-paid workers around the world in their all-distributed workforce. Benefits include unlimited vacation time, paid sabbaticals, and 401k matching. Intelligence worker marketplace Upwork includes some 12 million people who choose their own pay rates and control their own working conditions. Puerto Rican participants in the marketplace set their hourly rates above the average pay scale for jobs currently available on the Island.
What does Puerto Rico have to offer as a center for the human cloud?
Rossello pointed out the pleasant weather, but an educated bilingual workforce and U.S. laws are also strong advantages. Intellectual property laws, for example, are the same in the states and in Puerto Rico. Manufactured goods made in Puerto Rico get the “Made in the USA” stamp consumers look for; while manufacturing requires on-premise work, many jobs in a manufacturing company can be handled in the cloud. And travel between Puerto Rico and the states is easy, so face-to-face meetings with remote workers is simplified when some team members live on the Island and some in a state.
One concern for remote workers in the United States is the stress of isolation without office mates. Puerto Rico, which is still known for strong social, community, and family ties, might provide a workforce better able to thrive in the human cloud.
What will it take to give Puerto Rico a place in the cloud?
Reliable electricity and telecommunications are absolutely essential requirements if Puerto Rico is to take its place as a major player in the human cloud.
Statehood will provide stability and confidence, as well as a better chance of getting the strong infrastructure Puerto Rico needs.