How Cloud Communications and Computing Are Opening New Doors
This week, Oct. 3-7, organizations across the United States are participating in Digital Inclusion Week, an annual week of awareness, recognition, and celebration. Special events and campaigns to promote digital equity are underway, with businesses focusing especially on the communities they are a part of.
Digital Inclusion Week is organized by the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA), which advances digital equity by supporting community programs and equipping policymakers to act. This year, programs are underway in rural and urban neighborhoods that are still underserved when it comes to access to education and training, Internet access and computers, and career opportunities in our increasingly digital world.
With CARES Act funding flowing after having been passed by Congress on March 27, 2020, a portion of the $2.2 trillion has been allocated to provide direct economic aid to Americans impacted by the pandemic, including investments in high-speed broadband networks, affordable devices, subsidized services, and more.
While physical, digital infrastructure is critical to finally bridging the digital divide, it is only part of what is required to bring opportunities to all who wish to advance their education, experience, careers, and communities. Businesses play an important role, especially with the growth of remote and hybrid working. In today's world, digital tools are used to connect a changing workforce with more flexibility and "borderless" opportunity than ever.
"In a hyperconnected world, many organizations have only begun to experience how teams can carry out their work in new, digitally optimized ways," said John Street, CEO at Pax8. "One of the greatest benefits of workplace flexibility is the opportunity to recruit, hire, train, and develop talent regardless of physical geography, and our company just happens to include on our marketplace leading companies like Microsoft and their Teams offering. When we think about the future and mix of in-office and remote working, we see tremendous value directly tied to our commitment to inclusion and equity."
Beyond supporting online productivity, Pax8 opened a Pax8 office at Emergent Campus in Florence, Colorado, a workspace located in what was Florence High School and Middle School until 2019. The 1920-era building has been reimagined as a "work, live, play" style business campus, with space for incubation, training, offices, events, and living quarters.
Pax8's relationship with Emergent Campus, located about 100 miles from Pax8's headquarters in the Denver area, started with a small pilot in August 2020 with four people, but exceeded expectations and has expanded since.
Street cut the ribbon for the larger presence, saying during the ceremony that he knew that there is hidden talent in rural areas, and what's happening in Florence is a kick-off of what the company is doing nationally, a model for future locations in rural and underserved markets.
Pax8's 2,500-square-foot office at Emergent Campus is located on the second floor in two newly renovated former classrooms and houses 20 employees.
Street said Pax8 has been named one of America's Best Places to Work, noting, "a big part of the reason we are also one of the fastest-growing companies in the Denver area is in our culture, and that culture is one of kindness, respect, and inclusion, whether our team members are working from the office, from home, or on the road.”
“We look forward to Digital Inclusion Week every year, but this year we are even more excited to share the success story and expansion of our awesome team in Florence,” he added. “We are creating jobs there from within the community and will continue to invest in other communities across the U.S. and around the world as our business continues to thrive. We are in the fortunate position to be in the middle of innovation in the cloud and cloud-first technologies, so not only are we able to bring our expertise in digital, but our commitment to doing all we can to open doors as the demand for talent in our industry is only going to increase."
Street believes a positive culture is, in many ways, even more, important in the world of hybrid work.
"There is far more driving digital workplace productivity than simply providing workers with online access to cloud applications," he explained. "We are all humans, and connectivity and compassion are important to our collective wellbeing as people, not just workers. Making work from home truly work requires attention to the human experience, and that means putting people at the center of workflow design – it's intuitively clear that happy teams are more productive teams, and happy people create the best experiences for our partners. Being digitally inclusive means embracing opportunities to welcome talented people from every walk of life, from every neighborhood, and giving them not only the tools but the support they need to learn, thrive, and pave the way for future generations."
The NDIA connects organizations from across the country engaged with technology and broadband development issues. 2022 is poised to be the "biggest Digital Inclusion Week ever, with seasoned practitioners and newly launched programs hosting virtual and in-person events."
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