Spoiler Alert: It can!
I came home one day a few weeks ago surprised to find my adult daughter sitting on the deck with a computer on her lap. Happy to see her, I asked if she had taken vacation from work. This seemed like a logical question given that she was wearing a swimsuit.
“No,” she replied. “I am working. My conference call is in 20 minutes and then I need to send in some reports. While you’re up, Pops, could you bring me an iced tea?”
For us ‘old school’ employees, it made me wonder if today’s ‘kids’ had ever heard of Jack Welch or Vince Lombardi. How on earth can businesses succeed with people comfortably and happily working in swimsuits and pajamas?! (Of course, I felt the same way when my former employer introduced ‘casual Friday’ back in the previous century.)
Upon researching the subject, I discovered an incredible amount of information justifying this new trend. Large companies, small businesses, and even state and county governments are discovering that flexibility in where their employees work generates significant benefits. It has reduced worker absences and unexpected sick days and it enables an employee with a bad cold to stay at home and NOT spread germs to other workers.
It also eliminates climate-related absences such as ‘snow days.’ In the past, these events stopped all work from happening because no one could make it to the office.
Today’s workers tend to seek more than a paycheck. They want flexibility so that other interests and priorities can be handled such as family and volunteer work. Having a flexible schedule from home allows parents to see kids in school plays or they can help an elderly person go to the grocery store. It also saves a ton of money in gas and car expenses…and in my daughter’s case…expenses for business clothes!
Employees also don’t want to be tied to one geographic location. We know that living in Polk County has many advantages with its beauty, resources, and casual lifestyle. Many of our former residents who moved to the Cities for a job wish they could still live in Polk County.
The great news is that today, more people can live, work, and play in Polk County. This can happen, in part, because employers recognize the benefit of a flexible work-from-home policy. The other important reason this can happen is because of the internet. The recent surge in broadband expansion allows fast communication and data processing from home to the office. This is why we at the PCEDC keep pushing for policies and incentives to spread broadband to every corner of this county.
The internet has opened many opportunities for businesses and workers. Polk County has demonstrated a commitment to support broadband expansion and as this is implemented, residents and businesses will benefit.