WAVERLY — Austin Lorenzen knows all about the brave new world of working remotely — he’s been doing so for 10 years for Seattle-based SAP, all from the comfort of his Waverly home.
He likes that there’s no commute, though that means no built-in decompression time after work. And he has to make sure he’s not working at all hours of the day and night.
But overall, Lorenzen is happy to work this way.
“The flexibility — I like that,” he said. “I like the fact I really do get to work with a more diverse set of people that also work remotely. I think opening up your workforce outside of a building does that.”
And he’s pleasantly surprised that, since Waverly Utilities began offering gigabit Internet speeds in 2016, he now has better connections for video conferences than his co-workers in Seattle and Shanghai.
That means Lorenzen doesn’t have to compromise his desire to raise his family in a small town with his desire to do what he wants.
“I grew up in small towns,” Lorenzen said, a native of Denver. “For my wife and I, it’s a good fit for the lifestyle we’re comfortable with.”
As more people turn to remote work due to the coronavirus pandemic, the city has timed its new campaign, Waverly Welcome Home, perfectly.
“There’s a silver lining in some of this disruption,” said Connie Tolan, the city’s economic development specialist.
Tolan cited an April Harris Poll showing the pandemic has caused about a third of people in densely populated areas to think about migrating to smaller cities.
“Waverly is so well positioned for the work-from-home situation because Waverly Utilities has rolled out this robust fiber rollout — we’re a true gigabit city,” Tolan said.
The Welcome Home marketing campaign began in 2018 when employers came to the city worried they weren’t finding enough workers.
That led the city to partner with Amperage in Cedar Falls to survey residents and businesses to find out what leads current residents to call Waverly home, said Erin Bishop, research strategist and marketing director with Amperage.
“What stuck out, by and far, is really the welcoming — that sense of home, that it’s just the right place,” Bishop said.
Waverly Welcome Home went live Tuesday, featuring testimonials from people like Lorenzen, job search features and general information about the city’s businesses, schools, churches, businesses and other amenities.
“That website is going to be a growing thing. It’s going to be an evolving thing,” city director of community and economic development William Werger told the Waverly City Council at a Sept. 29 study session.
Brochures — digital and physical — are also be available for employers and others to use, Tolan said.
“So far, reaction has been very positive,” she said.
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