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ROI Annual Program Report 2020-2021

We are pleased to report on the remarkable impacts achieved by Utah State University (USU) Extension’s Remote Online Initiative (ROI) program in 2021! Despite the exceptional challenges we have all experienced due to the global pandemic, our small team has persevered. As a program, we realized tremendous success in strengthening and diversifying Utah’s rural economy by empowering residents through remote work opportunities.


From city employee to business owner: Randy Kenney's journey from urban to rural through learning remote work skills

In this episode of the Remote Work Radio podcast, Marta interviews Randy Kenney, a new small business owner living in Emery County, UT. Randy is not a remote worker, but he used the knowledge and skills from USU Extension’s Master Remote Work Professional (MRWP) course to start a new business. After commuting over 200 miles from Ferron to Salt Lake City for over 5 years, Randy used the Rural Online Initiative program to update his skills and is now running his business in his rural community and spending everyday with his family.


Solutions Consultant

Changing the world through digital experiences is what Adobe’s all about. They give everyone—from emerging artists to global brands—everything they need to design and deliver exceptional digital experiences! They’re passionate about empowering people to create beautiful and powerful images, videos, and apps, and transform how companies interact with customers across every screen. 

Remote Customer Service Representative

Verizon is one of the world’s leading providers of technology and communications services, transforming the way to connect across the globe. They’re a diverse network of people driven by a shared ambition to shape a better future. At Verizon, they have the ability to learn and grow at the speed of technology, and the space to create within every role.


Remote Work Has Opened the Door to a New Approach to Hiring

Companies have drastically changed the way they work, but hybrid and remote work aren’t the end of the story. In today's economy, leaders may consider the flexible or open talent model: project-based, or temporary work, that is staffed with workers who are not permanently attached to a company (i.e., freelancers).There are a few situations where it makes particular sense to use open talent, such as when:

  1. Insiders cannot be redeployed easily,
  2. Outsiders are less expensive than hiring a new insider or paying overtime to existing ones,
  3. Highly specialized skills are needed and they are not available internally, or
  4. Returns on exceptional solutions are high.


Leaders should consider the level of firm-specific knowledge required for a project, whether it’s recurring, and the integration costs of incorporating work from an open talent solution into the larger organization. Open talent can offer companies flexibility and access to talent and resources traditional hiring models can’t provide. And as more workers opt for flexibility in their careers, there’s significant potential for this model.


Why virtual brainstorming is better for innovation

Numerous studies have shown that while traditional brainstorming is a great tool for building team alignment and collaboration, it’s much less successful for generating innovation. Worse, when we try to recreate a traditional brainstorming session in the virtual realm, we lose all the positive energy and benefits of being in-person, and keep all the cons. Learn how you can run a great (virtual) brainstorming session in these 4 simple steps:

  • Step 1: Pick a shared collaboration tool that works for your team.
  • Step 2: Generate and organize ideas.
  • Step 3: Evaluate.
  • Step 4: Meet to discuss shortlisted ideas.


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Utah State University is an affirmative action/equal opportunity institution and is committed to a learning and working environment free from discrimination. For USU’s non-discrimination notice, see