Work remotely – and happily – in UP
The pandemic has created a very different work culture than many employees are accustomed to in their traditional office environments. With the introduction of remote working, people have been given the option to live where they want, regardless of where their company may be headquartered. This newfound freedom led many workers to move to places with more recreation, scenery, and space. For some, the perfect place to live, work and play is here, and they are Embrace the UP lifestyle.
Young people and professionals at all stages of their careers looking for work-life balance, downtown amenities, leisure, entertainment, and wildlife choose UP as a home base. However, this slow pace of life does not mean a lull in professional success. There are many remote workers in the midst of thriving careers in national organizations, all while working from their home offices here.
John Forno, structural and dynamics analyst in the aviation industry
John Furneaux, a Detroit native, spent time in the Iron Mountain area in the 1970s and 1980s. After attending college at the University of Notre Dame and graduate school at the University of Michigan, he moved to California, then to Alabama. During the early months of the pandemic, Forno returned to Iron Mountain to be close to his family. Today, he works remotely as a load dynamic structural analyst for a company in the aerospace industry.
In his job, which is similar to programming, Furneaux has decades of experience in both software and aerospace, design evaluation and risk management.
Forno says many of his co-workers are spread across the country, located in California, Seattle and Alabama, and meetings are virtual.
“Fortunately, the site I’m reporting from is in the same time zone, the Central Time Zone, and that helps. The counties that border Wisconsin — Menominee, Dickinson, Iron, and Gogebic — are in different time zones,” he says.
This attention to detail, with things like acknowledging potential time zone differences, is one of the skills Furneaux believes is essential for remote work.
“Work can bring you at all hours with teammates across the country, and you have to be aware of their schedules,” he says. “It has to be a little more flexible, but the benefit is that I have that flexibility. I can take off for 10 minutes, do a quick errand in town, and get back to work with no problems.”
Although some employers are hesitant to hire remote workers and want employees to return and remain on-site at headquarters, Forno hopes to dispel some of the myths surrounding remote work.
“I think there’s a misconception that you can’t have relationships,” Furneaux says of remote work. “I fully admit it’s not the same, but I’ve been able to ‘meet people.’ I think by talking to someone, sharing a screen, you can go a long way toward creating that togetherness.
While remote workers typically miss things like food and regular meetings with coworkers, Forno encourages companies to continue hosting teamwork and relationship-building events even if just twice a year.
Ultimately, though, this pro says the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.
“The number one benefit of working remotely is that I can help my parents,” Forno says. “I live a mile away from them and can help them in their golden years. I’m able to spend time with friends and neighbors from decades ago, and re-engage with the community. I help out with local robotics programs, support local track meets, join the local Rotary Club, and participate in many Volunteer activities available in a small town.
He especially enjoys going to work for an hour, especially in winter conditions.
“I get a few hours almost ‘for free’ because there’s no transportation,” Furneaux says. “The office is right down the hall, and I like to think I’m just as productive, maybe a little more, at getting things done remotely.”
He advises employers looking to hire remotely to be fully prepared and ensure success for their employees.
“You definitely want to provide the tools and processes necessary to perform efficiently,” he says. “For example, I did a full computer update remotely, and it was a great experience. I got shipping labels, receipts, etc., and it went almost flawlessly. My advice is to be prepared if you’re going to start looking at remote workers as an option.” , to support infrastructure needs such as laptop and badge.
As for job seekers looking for remote work opportunities, Forno advises anyone to be aware of state income tax issues. There are different rules for part-time residents, full-time residents, and those who live and work (remotely) in a different state than where their work is physically located.
“Be aware, discuss with your employer how to handle this and understand what employers’ expectations are, where they are based, and where you are working from,” Forno says. “Different states have different rules, and may or may not have reciprocity agreements. I have noticed that the rules change between partial resident status and non-resident status as well. My advice is to have this discussion with employers or potential employers.
Christine Manninen, independent communications contractor and owner of Log Cabin Resort
Christine Manninen grew up in the Chassel and Tapiola areas of South Houghton and Hancock on the Keweenaw Peninsula, and attended Michigan Technological University for Biological and Environmental Sciences. After graduation, she attended Michigan State University and worked in policy and communications in the Great Lakes region.
For 21 years, Manninen worked for the Great Lakes Commission, an interstate agency in Ann Arbor. Then in 2018, I started working as an independent contractor. Today she works at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in communications and website development. She divides her time between Ann Arbor and UP, where she runs a log resort that has been in her family for 100 years. From April to October, she lives in Chassel, and in the other months of the year, she lives in Chelsea, about a half-hour outside of Ann Arbor.
“I don’t think you really miss a place until you leave it. That’s what I found,” Manninen says. “I loved UP growing up, but after I graduated from college, I wanted to leave the area and move to new places and travel. I’ve been very fortunate in my career to be able to do that. I traveled to Europe and South America with my job. It’s been great, but I really appreciate coming back to UP now more than I did growing up. I guess I’m more of a country girl, and I like to live in quiet areas where I can get out and hike and kayak and all that stuff.
Manninen longed for a remote work schedule so she could manage it Family cabins in the northBut many moderators did not agree with the idea. Due to the pandemic, Manninen is happy to see more companies adopting the new company culture.
“The pandemic has pushed us into a new work structure, which I think is long overdue,” she says. “Among the people I talk to, they have a fuller life where they’re not working in an office environment for 40-50 hours a week. It’s really opened people’s eyes, they’re able to spend more time with their families, and I think it’s been a really positive change.”
Working remotely can be difficult due to additional distractions like children or even pets in an “office” environment, and it requires discipline.
“I do really well in two to three hours of time. I click on something for three hours, or I wake up, or I eat lunch, or I go walk my dog,” says Manninen. “You need to manage your time; And knowing what works for you functionally will make you more productive and happier throughout the day.”
Manninen encourages employees looking for remote opportunities to test it and show companies the results.
“For some employers, maybe working remotely for a week or two as a proof-of-concept might be helpful. Showing an employer that it can be done is really important,” she says.
Remote Workforce in Keweenaw It also provides tools, connections, and resources for residents and those looking to transition to remote work. they Providing a gateway to the Keweenaw area, showcasing the benefits of affordable housing, natural beauty, lower crime, and more space.
Callie New, associate vice president of planning and consulting services for a consulting firm
Originally from Wyoming, Callie Neo has spent time all over the world, including Oregon, New York, Salt Lake City, Italy, and Guatemala. Today, the urban planning specialist invites Marquette into his home.
Although UP’s backwaters may not be for everyone, and winters may be intimidating for others, Neo feels at home living in the backwaters.
“I love the outdoors, hiking, skiing, and being on the water,” she says. “Being able to live in a community that is close to nature and has access to recreation has been really nice.”
When Niu moved to UP in 2019, she began working remotely for a different employer, before shifting to consulting in 2021. In her current role as an urban planner, Niu works for WSP, a consulting firm that provides engineering planning services.
“It is not uncommon for the consultant to be from out of town, because oftentimes, communities, especially small ones, have to bring in consultants from outside the area in order to complete various planning exercises or projects they want to work on,” she says.
“For me, this has been a really good arrangement because it allows me to live where I want to live while maintaining my career. I feel very lucky to have the opportunity to work remotely.”
The mother was also able to spend more time with her family who lives far away. Instead of having to use vacation time, she was able to work remotely during their visit, maintaining business continuity. The number one thing she says employees and employers must have to work successfully remotely: the Internet.
“Having access to high-quality internet is really key,” she says. “If the state, cities or other entities want to attract and retain this type of worker, they need to take that into account.”
While some may view remote work as people living in their vans, constantly vacationing and traveling the world as digital nomads, New says the remote workforce is much more diverse than that. Additionally, not every remote worker is antisocial, or closed off to his or her computer desk.
“I serve on my community board, I have a young child and we are active participants in our community,” she says. “What I want to do professionally is not available to me here in UP at this time, but I consider myself an integral part of this community. I offer my professional experience and personal time to community events when I am able to. I don’t plan to stay away for the rest of my life, but this It’s where opportunities have led me at this point.
If you’re looking for remote work opportunities, here’s an event you can add to your virtual calendar. Return to the North is annual Professional recruitment fair Matching job seekers with UP employers. This year’s free event is hosted by MTEC SmartZone, sponsored by Michigan Works! It will be held on November 30 from 3 to 6 p.m