Making Remote Work: Utah Extension creates opportunities

Supply for the Demand

Training employees to be successful remote workers is only half of the ROI program equation. The other half is about increasing the availability of remote positions, which starts with the Master Remote Work Leader (MRWL) course. This research-based certificate course teaches business leaders how to develop remote work plans, create remote positions, and keep remote workers engaged and productive.

More than 154 executives have completed the MRWL course since February 2020,

and many of them say it has inspired them to make remote work a more integral part of their operations. “I was impressed with the individual work in this course as well as the online sessions,” said one MRWL graduate. “I thought it was quite challenging … [and] the course instructors provided a variety of resources and examples from how other businesses have adopted remote work, [which] I have used in my organization.”

Broadband and Broad Support

The ROI program would not have been possible if Utah did not have such reliable high-speed internet access: 97% of Utah residents have access to wired or fixed wireless broadband, according to BroadbandNow. Broadband access is critical for remote work, which relies heavily on video conferencing and other data-intensive tasks that require high-speed internet connections.

The financial and political support of the Utah state legislature has been fundamental to the ROI’s success, as well. This idea was actually inspired by former Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert, who challenged rural leaders to develop solutions to the economic problems they were facing. The idea of connecting rural residents to remote jobs was brought to USU Extension because rural leaders knew that we understand the communities we serve and that we had the expertise to develop a world-class program to make this idea a reality. Once USU Extension developed the program plan for ROI, the funding quickly fell into place. (See “ROI Funding and Development.”)

The Future of Remote Work

The ROI program was, serendipitously, ahead of the remote-work curve.

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