Blog Post

Insight: Broadband, Blues, and Beer – Creating Connectivity for the Rural Teleworker

By: Meredith King

Note: The opinions expressed are those of the author alone and do not reflect an institutional position of the Gardner Institute. We hope the opinions shared contribute to the marketplace of ideas and help people as they formulate their own INFORMED DECISIONS™.

Before the word “pandemic” had entered our everyday vernacular, negative stigmas around teleworking prevented most companies from offering a flexible work plan for their employees or creating full-time teleworking opportunities. Now one year into remote work, many of those stigmas have been eliminated and employees are seeking the flexibility that teleworking provides. As employers begin formulating what the new normal will look like for their companies, they are poised to create a teleworking-friendly environment, opening opportunities for rural towns across the state.

In November 2018 the State of Utah made a goal to create or move 2,055 jobs to partial or complete teleworking. At the time, the state identified 30% of government jobs that could move to a part-time or full-time teleworking position. However, as the world shifted in April 2020, large swaths of both the public and private sector moved to teleworking in a matter of days.

In a recent internal survey, over 4,600 state employees noted they would prefer staying fully or partially in a remote work situation. In the business community, employers are learning that the new normal will likely include virtual meetings as many of their