Premium member Jo Palmer was living what she called a gypsy life in the mid 2000s, travelling in and out of Australia as a nurse until she realised her desire to teach.
Growing up in regional Australia then getting a taste of city life, she decided to stay close to her country roots and attended Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga to complete her education degree.
Still living in Wagga Wagga, Jo watched more and more of her friends move from major metros to the countryside for a different quality of life. One day, she thought, “I’ve got girlfriends who’ve married farmers, and they’re all overqualified. What are they going to do on a farm?” Seeing the need to connect jobs with remote workers, Jo founded job matchmaker platform Pointer Remote Roles in early 2017.
At Pointer Remote Roles, candidates pay a one-off $75 fee, and it’s free for businesses to post a role and then pay commission once they’ve found the right person. Her continuing challenge is changing the societal mindset about remote work and the concept of ‘if I can’t see people working, how do I know that they actually are?’. “People can resist all they like, but our kids won’t accept the 9-5 office life,” says Jo. “It’s get on board, or perish. Businesses will need to be flexible, and remote work is an easy way to be flexible.”
“There are people who are better at the things you might find stressful and time consuming, the solution isn’t always a commitment to hiring an employee,” explains Jo. “A real option to grow your business is to consider putting people on remotely, on contract, part-time, or evening work.”
Through feedback from employers on the platform, Jo is also discovering that “country people just think differently”, which can lead to a fresh positive impact to the business. It’s also great for companies wanting to target rural customers or hire a rural marketing team who know the market demographic better than anyone else.
Today, Pointer Remote Roles has hundreds of listed accountants, graphic designers, EAs, marketing managers and HR consultants, and has helped dozens of small businesses find great talent who mostly reside throughout rural and regional Australia. With a bespoke online resource centre to educate both job-seekers and employers on the way, things are looking up.
The first year of Pointer Remote Roles was a blur. Jo admitted she had to sacrifice the blissful early months of motherhood but says that guilt is a wasted emotion. “It was just a missed opportunity, I wouldn’t have done it differently and my situation opened up other things.”
It takes hard work to run a successful business, something she feels that needs to be more openly spoken about. “We’re fed up with ‘go do it’, ‘jump in’, ‘take a chance’, ‘throw yourself out there’ – this advice can set you up for failure.”
“Starting a business is really stressful. There’s always lots of things going on and you often don’t get paid for a really long time.”
“Take a really good look at yourself. Think ‘hang on, can I actually do this?’ You can work hard for someone else in a 9-5 job, but it’s not the same as setting up your own business.”
Jo attributes her success to the support of online women’s support networks, using Slack channels and the Business Chicks private Facebook group to receive quick and honest feedback. “You need to ask for help, lean on each other, and put aside fake smiles to sometimes admit ‘OK, I’ve had a shit day’.”
As for what success looks like for Jo, she says her vision is a mindset shift for the HR departments in companies, corporations and Government towards the benefits of the addition of remote workers into their team.
“I see success in the utilisation of the extremely talented and experienced workforce that lives in regional Australia. I see success in professionals generating a second income for their family that will assist farming families during times of hardship such as drought or floods. The benefits to regional communities that additional income and subsequent spending brings is enormous.”
Connect with Jo here.
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