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Rural workers at a disadvantage if a full-time office return is out – Voneus CEO

Employees who live outside of major towns and cities risk being negatively affected, according to the CEO of rural broadband specialist Voneus, Steve Leighton.

Following on from research by the BBC that revealed the UK’s largest employers may never go back to the office full-time, he said:

“It’s well-known that data connectivity in many rural areas isn’t up to scratch. However, while this has only been a problem outside of work hours for many, the fact that UK’s employers are looking to shift to a hybrid model could risk entrenching further the digital divide between urban and rural regions.

“High bandwidth activities like video calling have become ubiquitous in the past year, which in some rural areas is a real headache at best, and practically impossible at worst.

“Remote working becoming widespread should open up more careers to a wider range of individuals. However, the fact that the infrastructure simply isn’t there risks excluding even more people, as those who live in rural areas might find themselves at a disadvantage to their city-dwelling peers.

“While there might not be overt exclusion, those unable to use video calls reliably, download large files quickly or anything else that requires a quality connection, might find themselves sidelined in their current roles and left out of the most important aspects of a company’s work, which over time, could result in promotions being harder to come by, poorer performance at appraisals or even perceived lower productivity.

“If companies wish to downscale their premises, they need to work with their members of staff to ensure they have access to reliable connectivity or ensure working in the office full-time remains an option once restrictions allow.”

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Lisa Baker is Group Editor for the Need to See IT Publishing Group. Lisa writes about HR, Technology, Health, the Environment and Business.
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