SD businesses expand bandwidth to send more workers home

Coronavirus

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Sending people home to work is a lot more complicated than it sounds. Many business, governments, health care systems and schools needed more internet infrastructure in order to make it happen.

A Sioux Falls bank began the planning last Friday and is about to send its last group of workers home after Thursday.

Tyrel Kool works in the mortgage division of Plains Commerce Bank. He was traveling in Washington State, a hotbed for the coronavirus, last week.

“I was in the airport and got the call–hey anybody who has been traveling, we’re going to have you stay home for a week to make sure you don’t have any symptoms,” Kool said.

Kool does not have any symptoms, but since then most of his fellow employees have also been sent home to work.

Mortgage Banker Tyrel Kool working from home

“We needed more bandwith. We needed a partner to be able to come alongside us to make sure we could complete all those tasks–making sure phone systems and rolling phones; the VPN connection. There was just a lot to it that you couldn’t just say–hey let’s move everybody home today,” Chris Vinson of Plains Commerce Bank said.

SDN Communications has seen not only banks, but also schools and city government ask for increased broadband to allow for working remotely.

“For employers it can be a hard decision. Try to embrace what’s going on. Try to help your employees find those safe distances. And that may be from home. I think employers will see less impact to the organization if they’re able to adapt, and allow essential staff to the be in the office and non-essential staff to work from home,” Mark Shlanta of SDN Communications said.

Tellers will remain on the job to man the bank’s drive-up window. The last group of non-essential Plains Commerce employees still in the office will be working from home by the end of the day on Thursday.

Plains Commerce Bank sent 100 employees home to work, keeping only drive-through open to customers

“Just the infrastructure to move 100 employees to their home–wow–I’ve even seen some of us moving desk chairs out because they didn’t have an office chair,” Vinson said.

Kool recently moved to a larger apartment and having a designated home office helps. Now he says he just has to remember to divide his time between work and home, even though they’re in the same place.

“Yesterday I was just wrapping up my last call and I realized I hadn’t been outside all day and it was about 5:30 in the afternoon, so I went out for a run,” Kool siad.

O’Gorman high school is also working with SDN Communications to expand bandwidth for online learning for students.

The City of Sioux Falls is doing the same so City employees can work from home.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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