Internet Inequality: A Burning Issue to be Addressed by CHROs

Connectivity issues are among the biggest roadblocks to business productivity when it comes to working remotely. And that has been the case off late with a majority of employers in the US, and across the world. As per a recent research executed by the professors at Stanford that was meant for Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, it was found that only 65% of Americans have had access to fast internet connectivity. The remaining 35% lack the ability to communicate at work via video calls, which requires fast internet connection. In circumstances like these (pandemic), slow connectivity can certainly lead to loss of work efficiency, and quality. 

Hiring Becomes More Meritocratic When Web Connectivity is Fast

Another research conducted by the North Carolina State University says that the fast web connectivity can help job seekers identify more job opportunities and the related information. But the same study notes that the availability of fast internet connection has also made the recruitment process much meritocratic. 

On one hand, lower wage job opportunities keep open to everybody, and hence, the competition is cut-throat, higher wage jobs on the other hand, are restricted to only those possessing familiarity with using a specific set of software tools that help carry out the work. Basically, it means high wage employment is going to those much familiar with HR tech, and the related tools. 

HR Leadership Must Step in to Get Remote Workers a Better Connectivity

According to the FCC (Federal Communications Commission), 21.3 million people in America don’t have access to broadband-level speeds, but then research varies sometimes. A few other researches are suggesting that people with a slow-speed internet connection are double the number mentioned in the FCC study. The issue is really hot at the moment as the virus-led lockdowns continue to remain in force, across the world. The ongoing circumstances are demanding for the CHROs and the HR leadership to step up, and take the challenge. 

The WFH (work from home) policy is expected to be in force until the spring of 2021. HR leaders must figure out some resolution to the said issue as it’s already hurting many businesses, globally. They need to ensure that their best workers have access to the modern software tools used in their work so that they (remote teams) would not have any kinds of connectivity hurdles while performing their respective jobs.

Possible Solution: Help from Local ISPs (Internet Service Providers)

U.S. internet subscriptions in 2019, by employment status (in millions)

Source: Statista

The budgets are already tight in the times of the ongoing crisis, and soon, are forecasted to tighten even more. The thought of providing for a Wi-Fi hotspot, or paying an internet stipend goes out of the window straight away. So what could be the potential solution? HR professionals can reach out to local ISPs to check if they have any exciting and cost-effective subscriptions available for their workforce. 

Check for ISPs Being Funded by the Government-Proposed CARES Act 

Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) act that came into fruition in March 2020, offered $2 trillion in relief funds against coronavirus-led economic losses to small and mid-sized businesses in the US. Under the same, millions of dollars were offered to ISPs catering to the rural areas of the country so that the people in those areas keep working remotely, amid the pandemic. Check for whether the ISPs in the resident areas of your employees benefited from the CARES Act or not. A few of the ISPs may have got enough funds to expand their services to regions your workers live in. 

Brief Conclusion 

To maintain engagement and productivity, both at the same time, access to fast internet for each employee in a WFH environment must be ensured by the HR leaders. Rising above the pandemic as a society collectively might take us some time, but a business cannot stop its operations waiting for the conducive conditions. And hence, it’s vital that the HR leadership must convince the higher management to extend help in some form or the other to the workforce that lacks a good web connectivity. After all, it’s a must-have for employees in a working environment that conforms to a new normal. 

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