The invitation from the Government of Barbados to foreign nationals to live and work there under the Welcome Stamp Visa program is definitely a dream case. Since last summer, more than 3,000 so-called “stampers” have moved to the island, working for their existing employers from a portable while enjoying the broadband, beaches and bars of Barbados.
About the Author
Evan Wienburg is CEO of Real speed.
While this is an extreme example of the WFH revolution, in Blighty even traditional companies such as HSBC, Nationwide and PwC have officially endorsed the hybrid home / office model. This permanent shift in everyday life Office commute supports the “office anywhere” principle, where people effortlessly connect between offices, homes and coffee shops.
The office anywhere
Many experts have weighed in on the benefits of a more flexible working model that combines the buzz of the office collaboration and team building with the convenience and productivity WFH earnings. As Julia Hobsbawn explains in the Demos Nowhere Office report, by focusing more on what makes a healthier and more functional workplace – anywhere – we can reduce stress and increase productivity. It is a win-win solution for employers and employees with other benefits including reduced travel costs and commute time, and savings in office space costs.
Island hopping digital
Flexible working can also help bring the UK up to standard and reduce geographic inequalities by increasing opportunities in areas far from major conurbations. The Behavioral Insights Team (BIT) and government-backed jobs website Indeed recently analyzed nearly 20 million applications and found that offering flexible work explicitly in vacancies would increase. applications up to 30% and create at least 174,000 flexible jobs in the UK economy per year.
But for this workplace recalibration to take off nationwide, people need to have access to the right digital tools and the right digital foundations – wherever they choose to live and work. Ultra-reliable, ultra-fast broadband connectivity is a must. And there is the catch.
The broadband divide
Even before the lockdown, access to reliable broadband was considered a crucial part of modern life. According to a nationwide OnePoll survey we recently commissioned of 2,000 parents, 92% of respondents would be “lost” without the internet at home. But only a third 36% have a very reliable home broadband connection, adding to the frustration of those who don’t. Of the two-thirds (67%) of those surveyed who said they needed fast broadband connectivity because they were working from home, 28% had to deal with shaky, frozen or even dropped video calls altogether, while 17 % even struggled to get their broadband to cooperate when sending an email.
Currently, only 40% of UK homes and businesses can access a reliable, ultra-fast broadband network capable of Gigabit (1 Gbps +) speeds, and most of them they are found in urban areas. The government’s £ 5bn Project Gigabit program aims to bridge this digital divide and reach at least 85% of all UK premises by the end of 2025 – with the aim of being ‘so close to 100% as possible ”by then.
A gigabit high-speed workforce
According to new estimates released by the Center for Economics & Business Research (CEBR), one million people could return to the workforce when fiber-optic broadband becomes available nationwide, depending on the capacity of the WFH . This includes more than 300,000 caregivers of working age, nearly 250,000 older workers and 400,000 parents of dependent children. The study also predicts that a successful FTTP deployment could boost UK productivity to £ 59 billion by 2025.
The CEBR also claims that the combined impact of a WFH workforce and full fiber coverage could see 500,000 people moving from high-density urban areas such as London to live in more rural areas. . This would reduce the pressure on housing and transport in large cities and increase economic opportunities in more remote areas.
Living the dream full of fiber
It is clear that strengthening UK broadband networks with superfast and reliable connectivity is essential to the country’s future growth ambitions and its desire for a fairer society. Fortunately, from top to bottom of the country, a host of independent, all-fiber broadband providers are building brand new fiber-optic networks in harder-to-reach rural areas and historic towns that have been left in the water for too long. in digital backwaters.
The race is now on to step up the pace and step up efforts to ensure that every citizen has access to the digital fast lane. All-fiber infrastructure is an investment in the UK’s future. And it’s scalable because speeds can be increased remotely for decades to come, even up to 10 Gbps. This is the gold standard of connectivity – exactly what is needed to get back on track as we recover from Covid-19.
For companies and employees fortunate enough to be located in an area of gigabit capacity, it is a no-brainer to abandon the “high-speed fiber” part copper service and switch high speed fiber package to take advantage of the many advantages. For those still waiting for gigabit capable infrastructure builds to get the green light from their local authority, it’s worth checking online to see which fiber optic providers are making progress in your area and register your interest. The more businesses and households in an area to express their interest, the greater the chances of accelerating deployment.
By viewing the past year as a catalyst for rethinking the world of work, we can embrace a more sustainable and flexible work model that results in a happier and more productive workforce. Supported by a nationwide fiber optic network, the Anywhere Office will become the new reality for employers and office workers. And while moving to Barbados for a year of remote work might not quite float your boat, the chance to work full or part time from the comfort of your own island idyll – aka the kitchen. or the local cafe – might just do it.