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Broadband's Impact

When It Comes to Telecommuting, Companies Save, But the U.S. Lags

WASHINGTON, June 28, 2011- The Telework Research Network released its report on the state of telecommuting Monday, showing that individuals who work from home are more productive than those who report to an office everyday, but that the United States has a lower percentage of workers who telecommute than its international counterparts.

In the United States, many consider telecommuting a perk rather than a standard business practice, as it is in most of the rest of the world. In Canada nearly four percent of the population teleworks or workshifts regularly. In the United Kingdom, it is even higher at a little over five percent of the population.

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WASHINGTON, June 28, 2011- The Telework Research Network released a report Monday on the state of telecommuting , showing that individuals who work from home are more productive than those who report to an office everyday, but that the United States has a lower percentage of workers who telecommute than its international counterparts. The report was commissioned by Citrix Online, which provides remote access, support and online collaboration services.

In the United States, many consider telecommuting a perk rather than a standard business practice, as it is in most of the rest of the world. In Canada nearly four percent of the population teleworks or workshifts regularly. In the United Kingdom, it is even higher at a little over five percent of the population.

In contrast, the United States lags with only two percent of the population teleworking. The Telework Research Network found that nearly 40 percent of U.S. workers currently hold jobs that can be performed remotely.

“The benefits of workshifting have been known for quite some time now, so it’s easy to assume that everyone is doing it these days, but the truth of the matter is pretty sobering and more than a little disappointing,” said Brett Caine, President, Citrix Online a provider of virtual computing solutions. “Despite much evidence to the contrary, it seems old-fashioned notions that work must be seen to be done still prevail. And by offering workshifting merely as a perk for management, companies are missing out on some of the biggest benefits of flexible working.”

The federal government is actually one of the few major employers that promotes teleworking, with nearly five percent of employees working virtually. The government plans to increase the overall number of workers that telecommute by 50 percent. The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (PTO), for example, avoided $11 million in new real estate expenses through telework and office hoteling.

From 2005 to 2008, there was an increase of 74 percent of workers who worked from home at least one day a month, according to the report.

Those employers that allowed employees to telecommute found that workers saw an increase in productivity on days when employees were telecommuting. British telecom calculated an overall increase of 20 percent through telecommuting while Dow Chemical found an increase of over 30 percent.

“The reality is that managers simply don’t trust their employees to work untethered. That’s not going to change until companies start measuring performance based on results, rather than the number of hours someone sits at their desk,” said Kate Lister, president, Telework Research Network. “Management gurus have been telling us for decades that results-based management is the key to maximizing employee potential; and it’s true whether employees are a hundred feet or a hundred miles away.”

Employers were also able to reap large savings by having to maintain smaller offices and reduce energy use. An office saves an average of $16,000 for every worker that telecommutes.

Rahul Gaitonde has been writing for BroadbandBreakfast.com since the fall of 2009, and in May of 2010 he became Deputy Editor. He was a fellow at George Mason University’s Long Term Governance Project, a researcher at the International Center for Applied Studies in Information Technology and worked at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. He holds a Masters of Public Policy from George Mason University, where his research focused on the economic and social benefits of broadband expansion. He has written extensively about Universal Service Fund reform, the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program and the Broadband Data Improvement Act

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Health

Digital Literacy Training Needed for Optimal Telehealth Outcomes, Healthcare Reps Say

Digital literacy should be a priority to unlock telehealth’s potential, a telehealth event heard.

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Photo of telehealth consultation from Healthcare IT News

WASHINGTON, May 18, 2022 – Digital literacy training should be a priority for providers and consumers to improve telehealth outcomes, experts said at a conference Tuesday.

Digital literacy training will unlock telehealth’s potential to improve health outcomes, according to the event’s experts, including improving treatment for chronic diseases, improving patient-doctor relationships, and providing easier medical access for those without access to transportation.

Julia Skapik of the National Association of Community Health Centers said at the National Telehealth Conference on Tuesday that both patients and clinicians need to be trained on how to use tools that allow both parties to communicate remotely.

Skapik said her association has plans to implement training for providers to utilize tech opportunities, such as patient portals to best engage patients.

Ann Mond Johnson from the American Telemedicine Association agreed that telehealth will improve health outcomes by giving proper training to utilize the technology to offer the services.

The Federal Communications Commission announced its telehealth program in April 2021, which set aside $200 million for health institutions to provide remote care for patients.

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Digital Inclusion

W. Antoni Sinkfield: To Succeed in 21st Century, Communities Need to Get Connected Now

One of the primary responsibilities of being a faith leader is to listen to your community and understand its problems.

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The author of this Expert Opinion is Reverend W. Antoni Sinkfield, Associate Dean for Community Life at Wesley Theological Seminary.

One of the primary responsibilities of being a faith leader is to listen to your community, understand its problems, and provide support in challenging times. Particularly during the pandemic, it has been hard not to notice that my parishioners, and folks across the country, are divided into two groups: those with access to the internet, and those without.

In 2022, digital inclusion is still something we strive for in poor and rural areas throughout America. The lack of reliable internet access is an enormous disadvantage to so many people in all facets of their lives.

To fully participate in today’s society, all people, no matter who they are and no matter where they live, must have access to the internet. Think of the remote learning every child had to experience when schools were closed, and the challenges that families faced when they didn’t have access to a quality connection.

It’s a question of plain fairness.

Politicians have been talking for decades about bringing high-speed internet access to everyone, however many families continue to be left behind. More than 42 million people across the country lack affordable, reliable broadband connections, and as many as 120 million people who cannot get online are stuck with slow service that does not allow them to take advantage of everything the internet has to offer.

People of color are disproportionately affected by lack of broadband access

Lack of broadband disproportionately affects communities of color, as well: 35 percent of Americans of Latino descent and 29 percent of African-Americans do not have a broadband connection at home.

Every person in rural towns, urban neighborhoods, and tribal communities needs and deserves equal and full economic and educational opportunities. Studies show that students without home access to the internet are less likely to attend college and face a digital skills gap equivalent to three years’ worth of schooling. Small businesses, which are the cornerstone of rural and urban communities alike, need broadband to reach their customers and provide the service they expect.

Simply put, having access to the internet in every community is vital to its ability to succeed in the 21st century.

Fortunately, we have an opportunity to take major steps toward a solution. Last year, Congress passed President Biden’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which provides $65 billion to expand broadband access and affordability. It is essential that we use this money to connect as many unserved and underserved communities as we can – and as quickly as we can.

Different places need different options to bridge the digital divide

As we bridge the digital divide, we must listen to those who have been left behind and make sure that we deploy solutions that fit their needs. Different places need different options – so it’s important that all voices are heard, and the technology that works best for the community is made readily available.

All people need access to broadband to learn, work, shop, pay bills, and get efficient healthcare.

When I talk to my parishioners, they speak about how much of their lives have transitioned online and are frustrated about not having reliable access. They do not care about the nuances of how we bring broadband to everyone. They just want to have it now – and understandably so.

This means that we must explore all solutions possible to provide high-speed broadband with the connection and support they need, when they need it, regardless of where they live.

Now is the time to meet those struggling where they are, stop dreaming about bridging the divide, and just get it done. Our government has a rare opportunity to fix an enormous problem, using money already approved for the purpose. Let’s make sure they do so in a manner that works for the communities they’re trying to help.

Rev. W. Antoni Sinkfield, Ph.D., serves as Associate Dean for Community Life at Wesley Theological Seminary, and is an ordained Itinerate Elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. This piece is exclusive to Broadband Breakfast.

Broadband Breakfast accepts commentary from informed observers of the broadband scene. Please send pieces to commentary@breakfast.media. The views expressed in Expert Opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Broadband Breakfast and Breakfast Media LLC.

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Broadband's Impact

Biden Delivers Remarks on Free Broadband to Qualified Households

Biden compared the value of broadband to telephone service, and drew parallels to the historic effort to connect the country.

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Screenshot of President Joe Biden delivering remarks at the White Hose Rose Garden

WASHINGTON, May 9, 2022 – President Joe Biden emphasized the essential nature of broadband during a public appearance on Monday.

Biden delivered remarks at the White House Rose Garden on the day’s earlier announcement that the federal government would work with both regional and national broadband providers to provide essentially free broadband to qualified households.

“Too many Americans simply cannot afford to get connected even if there is access to get connected. So, they go without high-speed internet, or they sacrifice other necessities in order to make it work,” Biden said.

“High-speed internet is not a luxury any longer – it is a necessity,” Biden said. “That is why the bipartisan infrastructure law included $65 billion to make sure we expand access to broadband internet in every region of the country.”

Biden also laid out the criteria for eligible households to take advantage of Affordable Connectivity Program, which when paired with the effort by ISPs to keep 100 Mbps download services under $30, provides free internet to consumers.

“If your household income is twice the federal poverty level or less – that is that’s about $55,000 per year for a family of four – or $27,000 for an individual – or a member of your household is on Medicaid or supplementary [social] security income or a number of other programs – you are eligible.”

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