While in the grocery store line today, I ran into a mom that I hadn’t seen in quite a while. We both have two kids and our oldest are just one year apart. They used to be in girl scouts together. I asked her what she’d been up to and she told me that she had started doing bookkeeping from her home. She said it felt so good to be there for her youngest, to have more flexibility.
It made me so happy to hear this. I thought “yes, there are more and more people working at home– even right here in my little town of Fort Bragg, California”. This trend is especially important in towns like ours, which is very remote. We’re over two hours from the nearest mall. It takes a 45 minute drive over a windy mountain road to get here.
Lumber and fishing have been the two main industries here for 140 years. The lumber mill has closed and recent restrictions on commercial fishing has forced many of our fishing families to move elsewhere.
While we do have a thriving tourism industry, local jobs are still hard to come by. But there is a silver lining in all this: Combine a lack of local jobs with a remote area, and you have a perfect situation for telecommuting.
The Mendocino Coast Broadband Alliance has a post on their blog that illustrates how this area can turn it’s geographical limitations into opportunities for telecommuting:
One of the opportunities for people who live up here in Paradise is to work from home. Not only could they have their own home-based businesses or telecommute, but they could be part of the new trend for companies to have information workers all over the country and world. For example, all of airline Jet Blue’s reservation agents work from their homes while connected into the main network. CEO David Neeleman reported on a CBS Evening News interview that the productivity increased 25 percent when they took people out of call cubicles and put them in home offices. He calls this an “Internet revolution”, the way of the future. It is a win-win for happy people working from home as well as for the company.
This is essentially how I ended up working from home. I used to be a District Sales Manager for a retail chain. Living here, there was just no way for me to find the same kind of job. I turned to the Internet for job opportunities and ended up doing commissioned sales for a company selling educational software for kids. Once I earned a bit of money doing that, I started my own business and well…here I am more than ten years later, still working at home.
I had a choice, I could have chosen to work outside the home instead. And when I ran into that mom I was telling you about…I probably would have been the checker.