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The Shift to Remote Work in Rural Areas

Making Work from Home Work for Rural Staff 

When the pandemic hit in early 2020, it changed the way people work overnight. Now just over two years later, remote or Work from Home (WFH) has become not only accepted but the norm. 

Let’s look at a few stats: 

  • 49% of the current workforce is now working from home at least part of the time 
  • 59% of employees said they’re more likely to choose an employer who offers WFH options 
  • 94% of companies said productivity was the same or better after implementing WFH policies 

Rural WFH can be challenging 

Now that people can live almost anywhere with remote work options, many choose or prefer to live in a rural area. However, working from home in the rural Midwest can be a real challenge with little to no access to high-speed internet. A recent CNN article included an FCC survey listing reasons why people avoid living in rural locations. 

Factors affecting employees’ decision to live in rural areas include: 

  • Internet connections in rural areas are very different than in largely populated areas.
  • It can vary from region to region, but in the Midwest, there are some common issues:
    • penetration of broadband internet services is limited
    • choice of internet service providers is scarce
    • connectivity infrastructure is old or even non-existent

Other issues affecting many areas include: 

  • Limited video conferencing capability (Zoom, Microsoft Teams, ect.)
  • Difficulty in manipulating large files is very common
  • Many employees have other family members using the same internet connections which can reduce speed.

Fiber connection: a great option for a rural remote workforce  

An excellent option for a rural workforce is fiber internet connection lines instead of traditional cable, which involves sharing lines with others. Fiber-optic lines are dedicated connections consisting of up to hundreds of small strands of glass or plastic cables, each about 1/10th the size of a single human hair. Fiber Internet transmits data using pulses of light that travel across fiber cables at speeds approaching the speed of light. There are several key advantages of fiber optic lines: 

  • Fiber is not affected by weather: With fiber optics, interrupted signals and outages due to inclement weather are a thing of the past. Unlike other types of broadband internet, fiber carries information by way of light, making it less prone to the negative effects of poor weather conditions.
  • Speed: Fiber offers lightning-fast speeds, making work processes, such as email, much faster. It’s also ideal for website connections because delays can annoy your customers, resulting in lost revenue.
  • Security: Because each fiber customer has an exclusive connection, there is less disruption and more security. Plus, it is virtually impossible to hack into a fiber cable to pilfer service.
  • Bandwidth Symmetry: Uniform upload and download speed is a major asset for those who work from home. Equally balanced speed eliminates lag time and allows you to transmit data as quickly as it is received. Also, with fiber, your speed will not be limited by the number of devices using bandwidth, as fiber provides a nearly unlimited capacity.
  • Sustainability: Fiber is an adaptable technology that can accommodate multiple devices being used simultaneously as well as future innovations within the telecommunications industry.

Ready to learn more? 

If you have questions or would like to learn more about improving web connections for your workforce, get in touch with us for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.