One of our core missions at Pax8 is to “challenge what it means to be a top workplace.” How we define “top workplace” has evolved over time, most notably during the past year when the COVID-19 pandemic served as a catalyst for Pax8 to rapidly adopt remote work. During this transition, Pax8 had to find ways to keep our employees connected and our award-winning company culture thriving. It also opened a whole new world of job candidates as we extended hiring to a broader pool of remote applicants.
Another way this ethos has blossomed in the past year is with the new Pax8 Rural Empowerment Program. Through this initiative, Pax8 has been able to combine our diversity and inclusion goals with our expanded remote footprint to invest in talent acquisition and development in rural communities that previously had limited access to careers in the tech industry.
What initially launched as a “watch and learn” pilot program has quickly become a success story for Pax8 and the rural communities we’ve partnered with – and there’s a lot more growth on the horizon.
Read more to find out how this program started, how far it’s come, and where it’s going.
In 2019, Pax8 secured an $18 million incentive package from the Colorado Office of Economic Development to create 1,800 jobs in the state by 2027, 55 jobs of which must include hiring in rural communities.
After much research, Pax8 decided to start our rural hiring initiative with a pilot in partnership with the Fremont Economic Development Corporation (FEDC) TechSTART program and their Emergent Campus in Fremont County, Colorado.
The Emergent Campus provides underlying infrastructure – including workstations and high-speed broadband – to serve as a co-working hub. And, incredibly, the building for the Emergent Campus just celebrated it’s 100th anniversary on April 25, 2021!
The ultimate mission of the Pax8 Rural Empowerment Program is to contribute to sustainable economic development through investment and partnership with rural communities, while expanding the diverse and talented employee population at Pax8.
The Opportunity at the Intersection of Cloud Tech + Remote Work
Thanks to cloud technology, companies have been able to remain productive after pivoting to remote work this past year. As a disruptor in the IT technology market and leading cloud provider, Pax8 was uniquely situated to adapt to this shift.
In March 2020, the Pax8 team transitioned to full-time work from home in less than 36 hours, thanks to our existing cloud IT infrastructure. And since then, we’ve added over 100 jobs with over 200 promotions, despite the challenges of the pandemic.
This disruption to the workplace status quo dovetails nicely with the Pax8 mission to identify and hire talent in rural communities through a distributed approach. It’s a cliché at this point but it continues to ring true – the “new normal” for business has changed and will likely never go back to the way things were before. Going forward, this means that people can live where they want but still work in well-paying, high growth tech jobs.
Meeting People Where They Are
Our goal with the Rural Empowerment Program is to meet people where they are – both geographically and culturally. And it’s a two-way street! Not only do we want to represent Pax8 in rural Colorado communities, but we also want to help rural America gain representation in the tech industry.
We’ve been astounded by the talent that has entered our doors through the Rural Empowerment pilot program. Many of these new hires have come from career pivots to tech from other fields and trades, bringing a depth of experience and skills to their jobs at Pax8.
We’ve also found that many of the values so strongly demonstrated in rural Colorado communities – ingenuity, innovation, resilience, and community – are a perfect fit for our own company culture at Pax8.
Investing in Career Development & Community Growth
At Pax8, we believe that investing in our employees’ career development and growth pays dividends in their (and, ultimately, the company’s) effectiveness and success. We achieve this through career coaching, job shadowing, leadership training, mentorship, and an award-winning internal educational program called Pax8 University.
Our Rural Empowerment team has taken this developmental mindset to actively invest in the communities we’ve partnered with.
Our community engagement includes working with local economic development corporations, state and local programs, and feeder school systems to build a pipeline of applicants. This entails taking a long-term view of talent development, including helping to influence curriculum at high schools and community colleges to set students up with the STEM skills and certifications needed for future work opportunities. Our team also participates in job fairs, class presentations, and other types of community mentorship.
We recognize that our success with the Rural Empowerment Program stands on the shoulders of entrepreneurs who came before us to develop the ecosystem of support for tech events and networking in these rural communities. This has allowed us to see rapid initial progress, including:
– In the 8 months since the program launched in August 2020, we have hired 13 positions, already hitting 24% of our 8-year target for rural requirements in the state.
– We are at 0% attrition, with several employees in the program already progressing their skill development at Pax8.
– We currently have employees in the program across 5 counties, with plans to break into new counties and regions this year.
New Horizons Ahead
The Pax8 Rural Empowerment pilot program in partnership with FEDC TechSTART and Emergent Campus has been a showcase for our rural program plans nationwide.
Cloud technology has created a new frontier for what a top workplace looks like. As disruptors in the cloud space, Pax8 is eager to take this opportunity to be pioneers in connecting rural communities across the country with tech jobs.
Our Rural Empowerment team represents seven departments across Pax8 working together to fulfill our rural program goals – which align with the company’s overall commitments to diversity, inclusion, innovation, and community investment. It truly is a team effort and win for all of Pax8 as we continue to scale and grow this program across Colorado and, eventually, the country.