When remote work was introduced because of COVID-19, many of us simply took our laptops home and began navigating a new set of challenges. Some struggled more than others with the shift to working from home.
Technology inequality is rarely spoken about in relation to hybrid or remote working, but it is a serious problem that is impacting global businesses and their dispersed employees.
Cybersecurity company Surfshark ranked 110 countries in terms of their overall digital wellbeing. In doing so, the company uncovered startling digital problems impacting workers.
The study is based on open-source information provided by the United Nations, the World Bank, Freedom House, and the International Communications Union.
Surkshark’s research considered 90% of the global population, amounting to 6.9 billion people, and found out that low and lower-middle-income countries have to work significantly harder to get the same amount of digital capacity as high-income countries.
Lower-income country challenges
The study showed that those in lower-income countries have to work at least 11 hours 10 minutes per month to afford the cheapest broadband package, 4.2 times more than people in high-income countries (2 hours 41 minutes).
On top of that, the average broadband internet connection speed in high-income countries is four times higher (113.19 Mbps) than in low and lower-middle-income countries (28.53 Mbps).
In extreme cases in countries like Nigeria and Côte D’Ivoire, the average person needs to work a full week to afford broadband.
Speaking about the situation, Vytautas Kaziuokonis, CEO of Surfshark, said: “Digital opportunities have proved to be more important than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic, stressing the importance for every country to ensure fully remote operational capacities for their economies.
“However, internet accessibility varies greatly in quality and affordability depending on where we live, revealing deep inequalities between low and high-income countries.”
It is unclear what governments will do to bring an end to this disparity, but companies can also begin to make an impact.
What can companies do?
With remote working becoming more commonplace, many companies will worry about ensuring their talent has the ability to work at their best.
To do this, employee experience tools that collect data from users can be leveraged. By using the likes of ControlUp, companies can see the technical issues that employees face and even begin to automate workflows.
Of course, government regulation of broadband providers also has a part to play here.
With this in mind, employers hiring across the world will need to understand the location where they are hiring before they pull the trigger. This is undoubtedly another layer of complexity when it comes to remote hires.
HR tech companies like Boundless and Remote aim to ease the stresses of remote hiring by informing employers about the laws of a candidate’s country. Additionally, these platforms give insight into the culture and situations that are commonly experienced within a country.
On top of that, through digital meetings, there should be evidence of whether a hire will be a success. Nonetheless, companies must appreciate the added difficulties that employees in certain locations will have.
A global workforce is upon us, but it is clear that it isn’t an easy journey, and talent in some nations need help.