The writer William Gibson famously said, “the future is already here—it’s just not very evenly distributed.”
That statement certainly rings true when it comes to the way we work today. Software and the web have changed and created a lot of jobs. But too often, you have to be in a big city to take advantage of the opportunities.
Technology and policies that separate jobs from location—allowing people to work Anywhere—can help.
Anywhere work: everyone benefits
When people can live where they choose but still have access to a wide range of work, everyone benefits. It’s good for companies, who have access to a larger talent pool. It’s good for small town and rural residents, who get jobs.
And, Anywhere work is good for the rural communities, because there’s a multiplier effect. The workers who live in town but work for companies based elsewhere still spend much of their income locally. This supports their neighbors and area businesses.
AnswerConnect clients operate in states from coast to coast. And our Anywhere model, which brings work to people instead of making people commute to work, means we have team members in a wide variety of places as well.
Let’s meet a few of them!
Turkey traffic in Coquille
For most of our employees, working Anywhere means working from home. That helps them save on commuting costs and gives them back time to spend with friends and family. But Malinda actually has a small office of her own. Since her country home has no fast internet service, she commutes about 15 minutes to nearby Coquille, Oregon to work. “My commute is no cars,” she says. “Just deer and turkeys.”
When she first joined AnswerConnect, Malinda was a little uncertain. After all, she and her husband had owned and operated an RV park for years. “I never thought I would be able to work for someone else,” she says. “I had been self-employed for so long. I was the boss. I hired and fired, and laid down the law. But I love it and the company.”
Today, Malinda is a mentor, helping our virtual receptionists to be their best. She coaches them on how to meet or exceed our QA metrics. To succeed in the role, especially when working outside a traditional office environment, “you have to take the responsibility and be self-motivated,” Malinda says. “I tell them to put signs around their screen saying, smile, please, thank you, verify—so it flashes in their mind.”
Malinda’s husband has retired, but she’s not ready to give up her work just yet. “I enjoy everything I do. I enjoy my time here. Couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Getting away from it all in Del Rio
Del Rio, Texas is a city of about 36,000 along the Rio Grande river in the southwest part of the Lone Star State. A Minnesota native, Michele and her fiancé moved to Del Rio when he got a job as a game warden. “We’re pretty outdoorsy,” she says. “I grew up dirt biking, snowmobiling, and jet-skiing. And of course hiking and camping.”
Their new home in Texas offers plenty of opportunity for Michele and her fiancé to take “primitive camping” trips—they’ll backpack a few miles to a spot, which of course has no electricity or running water. “You eat what you have and hope you don’t run out,” she says. “You feel more accomplished, but it’s kind of scary too. We’re out there with no phone reception.”
By comparison, working as a virtual receptionist from her home office isn’t quite that isolated. “I think a lot of businesses are going to be heading this way,” Michele says of working Anywhere. “It saves a lot of resources. I really think it’ll keep expanding and be part of the future.”
The trick to being successful in an Anywhere job? Michele says it’s just being an adult. “We should be able to take on the work, schedule ourselves, and take care of ourselves. We don’t need someone to tell us when and where to work. It’s a great opportunity.”
Giving back to the community in Crystal City
Jobs in Crystal City, Texas, where Manuela lives and works, are hard to come by. “If you have a job here, you won’t let it go,” she says. The town of less than 8,000 is near the border with Mexico, about 100 miles south of San Antonio.
Manuela was determined to stay in the area where she was born and raised, she says, even though it is sometimes economically difficult. “I always say you have to give back to your community,” she says. “You could move and make more money, but what are you giving back?”
For most of her career, Manuela worked in community-based nonprofits such as Head Start. “I’m a social worker at heart,” she says. To pursue her passion, she enrolled in school online, completing her bachelor’s degree in psychology this past November. She’s now working on a master’s degree in education, specializing in family and community.
She says those skills come in handy when working in a customer experience position. “You can hear a person’s tone of voice,” she says. “As soon as they talk to you, you know what kind of call it’s going to be. Social work has helped me get the best out of people.”
The ability to work Anywhere has helped Manuela stay in the place she calls home, raise her family, and pursue her education. “I love it,” she says. “This is a really great opportunity, and this is where the world is moving.”
Smith Rock scrum master
Laurie’s home in Terrebonne, Oregon is right next to Smith Rock State Park, an international rock-climbing destination. Although the area is beautiful and has great schools, the economy is not always so attractive.
“When I joined the company we were in the midst of a recession here in Central Oregon,” Laurie says. “It was hard to find work—even minimum wage work. To be given an opportunity to work from home really helped.”
The adjustment to working Anywhere wasn’t too hard for Laurie. She had worked as a grant writer and had even been the executive director of a nonprofit, so she was used to spending time on the computer. Her family had a little more trouble getting used to her being home, but not available. “I had to put a sign on the door,” she says with a laugh. “My father-in-law still asks, do you get a check?”
One challenge Laurie’s found with working from home is how to avoid sitting for too long. She decided to elevate her desk and get a tall chair, so she can alternate between sitting and standing, and she takes a few minutes throughout the day to stretch.
Recently, as the company has begun to move to the agile framework Scrum, Laurie has become one of our first scrum masters. “I keep the agile manifesto on my desk,” she says. “It’s interesting how often I run into scrum masters or product owners even in our rural area. Almost everywhere I go, I hear someone talking about scrum. I go and introduce myself.”
Laurie says she appreciates the efficiency of scrum. “It’s a more efficient model with less waste,” she says, “that recognizes people are people, and not machines. I like that all voices are heard. I truly enjoy the transparency. That it itself leads to efficiency right off the bat.”
Distributing the future
Opening job opportunities in small town and rural America is just one reason to support Anywhere work. It helps us distribute the future a little more evenly.
All our team members contribute to what we do—whether they live in a city, suburb, small town, or out in the country. With the tools and techniques of Anywhere work, we can collaborate no matter where we are.
Have you tried working outside a traditional office? From home? On the road? Let us know how you work Anywhere in the comments.