COVID-19 Highlights the Value of Broadband & Why We Need to Get it to More People

Dr. DaveBroadband, Remote Work & Telecommuting

Rural America Needs Broadband Internet

As more businesses encourage, or even mandate, that their employees work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, remote work is changing from a luxury to a necessity, particularly if employees are practicing social distancing or become quarantined. However, not all businesses or communities are prepared to support a mostly remote or fully-remote workforce.  

To help your business remain productive, we have to continue to push broadband to more and more communities.  

Whether it be digital subscriber lines (DSL), fiber, wireless (Wifi), and satellite. Which style is best suited to your needs depends on a variety of factors, including the location of your business and honestly what is available to you. 

So what are you missing without broadband in your area? 

In the modern age, remote work relies heavily on a fast, reliable internet connection that can support all the apps and programs your employees need to do their jobs and collaborate effectively.  

Remote Meetings Rely on Video Conferencing or VOIP 

Most modern office jobs rely on collaboration to at least some degree, and that collaboration typically happens during meetings. When employees are encouraged to, or required to, work remotely in-person meetings are no longer feasible. 

A broadband connection can help your team remain collaborative by supporting video conferencing software or VOIP based conference calls. While phones can support conference calls, VOIP calls are typically less expensive and don’t require complicated codes to join in. By streamlining the process, you can reduce the amount of time it takes for employees to set up or join conference calls and increase productivity. 

VOIP has a lot of benefits, but some meetings really do require actual face time. Video conferencing products (such as Zoom or Teams) allow employees to collaborate effectively by sharing their screens with co-workers and video streaming presentations or whiteboards so that diagrams and other important visual information can be shared in real-time. There are also recording programs (such as Loom), which allow you to record these calls video or screen sharing calls so that they can be shared with absent employees or reviewed again later. 

Share Documents Using the Cloud 

While many offices are relying less on physical paper, a lot of work still requires text documents and spreadsheets. Even basic word processing and other document generation programs may still require employees to edit a document, email it to a coworker, and then have that coworker work on it and send it back, wasting time and hindering productivity. 

That’s why more organizations are switching to cloud-hosted word processing and spreadsheet programs (such as Google Drive or Microsoft’s OneDrive). These products allow multiple users to edit documents in real-time, track what changes are made and by whom, and share these documents easily with third parties such as clients.  

However, these programs are only useful if they have a reliable internet connection that can handle that much traffic.  

Short Conversations & Morale Rely on Instant Messaging 

While meetings play a vital role in collaboration, informal conversations have their place as well. In the office, employees may stop by the water cooler or head to the lunchroom to chat, catch up, and have other informal conversations. These conversations are not only good for productivity since they encourage discussion and collaboration outside of formal meeting settings, but they also play a vital role in employee morale.  

When employees work remotely, they often miss out on these little interactions, which can lead to feelings of isolation. Fortunately, instant messaging apps (such as Slack and Teams) can allow these informal interactions to move online.  

Without the right tools, remote work can have a serious impact on employee productivity, ultimately impacting your business’ bottom line.  

Changing the Way we do Business Indefinitely  

COVID-19 has, in just a few short weeks, fundamentally changed how the world does business. As both consumers and employees need to practice social distancing and self-isolation, the need for a digital transformation becomes increasingly pressing and it doesn’t it look like it will change anytime soon. 

So, in a time of a pandemic, we need to continue to support service providers, co-ops, communities and the Federal government to keep engaging experts to help mobile more broadband to more people, faster.