BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) – COVID-19 forced many businesses and employees to work from home. That meant the office moved from a brick-and-mortar location to a spare bedroom. And there are some unexpected benefits the new system is bringing to small North Dakota communities.
Velva is one of many towns in the state looking for employment opportunities for residents or people who want to relocate to rural areas. Thanks to the great connectivity North Dakota has, many workers can now earn a paycheck from home.
Maria Effertz Hanson, an employee of the North Dakota Department of Commerce, was working from home long before it was in vogue.
”I wouldn’t have taken the job if I would’ve had to move, to be honest. Working remotely is part of what I’ve done for several years. It’s allowed me to work with companies in Grand Forks and Bismarck, and it allows me that flexibility that I think I’m more productive when I’m at home,” said Maria.
Maria lives in Velva, and the Department of Commerce is based in Bismarck. She says the biggest challenge is striking a work/life balance.
”I have a door, and I shut the door when I’m working. And when I’m done working, I go out and do the normal stuff I would do,” said Maria.
One of the best perks that comes from being in a remote workforce is more time for family because commutes are eliminated.
”It’s kind of nice hanging out with her and just being able to do stuff with her,” said Elizabeth Hanson, Maria’s daughter.
Whether it means preparing a meal with their kids or helping them out with their homework, the remote work environment is appealing to today’s workers, who have found creative ways to work.
”We have people who have set up makeshift offices, some work from their kitchen counters, their dining room tables. Some have taken advantage of that increased flexibility to set up at a coffee shop in their community or their neighborhood and continue to serve the state of North Dakota” said Katie Ralston, Director of Workforce Development at the Department of Commerce.
But for workers like Maria, who have found that balance, it’s the only way to work.
The Department of Commerce has remote workers in at least thirteen separate communities around the state. They plan to continue remote work for the immediate future.
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