At 1MFWF, we always want to highlight what’s happening around the country and across the globe pertaining to work flexibility. While our own blog features regular contributions from experts on this topic, we also keep an eye out for great articles elsewhere on the web. Here are some recent news items not to miss, including how the COVID-19 pandemic has given new urgency to stalled legislative efforts to bring universal broadband to rural America and elsewhere.

Remote Work Can’t Change Everything Until We Fix This $80 Billion Problem

Fast Company, Jared Lindzon

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, lack of broadband access in rural America was a huge problem. With coronavirus in full swing and some rural communities being affected at higher per capita rates, closing the digital divide has never been a more urgent issue. Residents in rural communities would gain greater access to the job market if broadband was more readily available. What’s more, many people in urban areas who would like to move out of cities to rural communities for more space and lower costs of living say the dearth of internet access makes such moves prohibitive, according to a study by SatelliteInternet.com. Pandemic-related lockdowns and stay-at-home orders have highlighted the issue, even as legislative efforts to create universal broadband at a cost of $80 billion remain stalled in Congress.

Hawaii Seeks to Be Seen as a Workplace With a View 

Fortune.com, Jennifer Sinco Kelleher and the Associated Press

With the onset of winter and the ongoing surge in COVID-19 cases, Hawaii has launched a campaign to lure remote workers to the island paradise. The effort, called “Movers and Shakas” (shakas being the term for the “hang loose” hand gesture), is intended to help make up for the sharp downturn in tourism caused by the pandemic. Officials are touting Hawaii’s relatively low rate of coronavirus infections, one of the lowest per-capita infections rates in the U.S., as a great reason to set up shop in Hawaii, even temporarily. The first 50 applicants approved under the program were slated to receive a free round-trip ticket to Honolulu. Program participants must pledge to respect Hawaiian culture and volunteer at a local nonprofit a few hours a week.

Future of Work: Flex Is Best

Allwork.Space, Cecilia Amador de San José

The inventory of flexible workspaces in the real estate market may double or even triple in the next five years, a new study predicts. The study by Colliers International calls the current downturn in the flexible workspace industry due to the pandemic a “temporary setback.” Soon, and especially over the long-term, demand for flexible workspaces will bounce back as corporate demand increases, the study found. Other driving factors in the predicted market growth are increased demand for flexible workspaces in suburban and secondary areas, and new operating models embraced by property owners and others. For companies, the benefits of flex work include agility, financial upsides, and operational efficiencies. Flexible work options will remain a viable alternative for many businesses, regardless of their location, the article notes.

Work from Home Brings New Freedoms, New Distractions, and New Definition of “The Office”

Minneapolis Star Tribune, Jackie Crosby

The option to work from home is the “new forever” for many companies in the Twin Cities and across Minnesota. With 42% of Americans working remotely thanks to the pandemic, many businesses are seizing the opportunity to free themselves from brick-and-mortar offices and obligations—or at least minimize their dependence on traditional office space. In some cases, businesses are retaining traditional offices only for the occasional meeting, team-building exercise, or other bonding experiences. For remote workers whose productivity declines because of distractions like a working partner nearby, or obligations like home-schooled children, coworking spaces are an option, though one that brings an additional financial expense. The long-term outcome may be a hybrid of office and home-based work that gives companies and their employees a new and welcome degree of flexibility.

How Can We Maximise Flexibility in a Post-Covid World?

Onrec.com, Stuart Gentle

The hasty adjustments in the workplace made to accommodate COVID-19 should now give way to more focused, thought-out plans that maximize work flexibility. Company leaders have an obligation to set up long-term policies that are fair and well-managed. Failure to do so could damage work-life balance, make gender inequalities worse, and place certain groups of workers (like parents and younger, less established employees) at a disadvantage. One important approach in taking on this daunting task is to listen to employees to help ensure they have the tools, support, and communication they need to continue to do their jobs effectively. Keep company culture thriving and worker isolation at bay by offering shared social activities on virtual platforms that keep team members connected.

Stay on Top of Work Flexibility News

Workplace trends affecting remote and flexible work can have a significant impact on your company’s plans for implementing sound guidelines for your employees. Join the efforts of 1 Million for Work Flexibility and stay abreast of best practices for work flexibility that can help you retain workers and attract top-tier job candidates.