According to new 2021 American Community Survey (ACS) one-year estimates from the US Census Bureau, the proportion of people mainly working from home increased threefold, from 5.7 percent (around 9 million people) to 17.9 percent (27.6 million people) between 2019 and 2021.
Of course, the picture these statistics paint isn’t very specific.
Rural areas across the U.S., for instance, are still lagging behind when it comes to the work from home revolution.
Challenges to Working From Home in Rural Areas
There are a number of challenges that come with working from home in rural areas in the U.S.
While broadband generally offers companies a productivity boost — even when offered to workers in rural areas — many additional factors determine the extent of its impact.
For example, if a company invests in additional infrastructure or tools to take advantage of broadband speeds (such as new servers or cloud-based applications), they will likely see greater productivity gains than if they do not make complementary investments.
Additionally, employees’ skill levels play a role: those who are more tech-savvy and able to adapt quickly to new technologies can better take advantage of broadband’s benefits when compared with those who are less comfortable with change or unfamiliar with using computers and the internet.
Unfortunately, many people in rural areas belong to the latter group.
With this background, here are a few primary challenges to genuinely productive work-
from-home setups in rural areas:
- Isolation – It’s been observed that spreading broadband to rural areas promoted the growth of new local businesses, but only for areas that were least remote. The area’s proximity to an urban center was still key, even though, presumably, the new technology does indeed help facilitate remote working. In the same vein, this aspect of isolation means that spreading broadband to rural areas actually did more to stimulate the connected urban economies than local ones. Simply put, digital contacts just can’t replace real ones. This is the primary issue with the isolation of some rural areas.
- Limited access to high-speed internet – Lack of access to high-speed internet is a
hindrance for nearly 14.5 million rural Americans, according to the FCC. This can make it difficult for people without internet access to even stay connected with loved ones, much less be productive in remote work settings. In this contemporary digital world, the lack of high-speed internet access is a massive obstacle to achieving success, especially when the opportunity to perform your job from home is available, but you simply don’t have reliable infrastructure.
- Lack of nearby amenities – The lack of amenities can be just as restrictive as the lack of infrastructure. There are fewer support personnel for technical issues, and fewer opportunities for social interaction, which can make working from home lonely and impact productivity.
Advantages to Working From Home in Rural Areas
Despite the challenges explained above, there are also a number of advantages to working
from home in rural areas.
Research suggests that expanding broadband into new locations positively affected women’s participation in the labor market, for example. It’s also been observed that providing broadband to new areas may encourage suitably skilled workers to explore remote work opportunities in that location.
This closely mirrors what happened immediately during or after the worst of the pandemic where people left their city offices to work in semi-urban — even rural or remote seaside — locations.
- The foremost advantages to working from home evidently apply even to rural areas:
- Increased flexibility and freedom – Working from remote setups is the peak of work-life balance when implemented properly, with some jobs offering flexible hours as well.
- Lower costs of living – Work without the commute or gas money involved is less
- Proximity to nature – There are documented health benefits associated with being close to nature. This is something workers in urban centers often lack.
Managing Your Work-From-Home Setup With Rural 4G Internet
The situation isn’t hopeless for rural Americans, however. Here’s one solution:
At Rural4G, we understand that many Americans living in rural areas are gradually being left behind offline.
This is why we’re expanding connectivity by rolling out 4G LTE rural internet as an alternative to satellite internet.
Our services are designed specifically to provide 4G internet for rural areas and even support activities like streaming and gaming.
If you’re concerned about making the switch from satellite to 4G, take a look at the Rural4G internet reviews our customers have provided.
They had the same concerns as you, but we were able to help them get connected with affordable plans, reliable speeds, and no contracts.
Don’t miss out on this opportunity for better connectivity.