By the looks of their faces and warmth of their smiles, working from home for both Dan Langille and Marilyn Roy is a lot different than having to do ‘homework’. I caught up with Dan at the Harbour House Ales & Spirits in Pictou to celebrate Independence Day and I realized how fitting that was considering his ability to work from anywhere.

Dan officially had the day off based on following American holidays for ease of doing business with his employer. He’s been working from home for about thirteen years, starting when the concept was new to most companies and employees.  He is now a veteran of the Microsoft partner ecosystem.  His job as VP of business development for the software giant allows him to thrive with the close collaboration between his colleagues and the Microsoft personnel from his home office in Lyons Brook, Pictou County.

“Understanding telecommuting is an important for the long-term economic viability of our region because it provides evidence that people do not need to leave to gain lucrative employment.  Telecommuting allows anyone to have the best of both worlds – a laid back east coast life style and a “big city” salary,” he says.

Telecommuting from home base in Lyons Brook. A work environment that is become more a norm for professional people like Dan Langille, VP of Business Development for QUADROTech a division of Microsoft partner ecosystem.

Dan’s transition into this emerging realm of employment was an evolution like many others. He was tired of travelling to his office in Halifax when he and his growing family lived in Lantz, he began testing the waters of staying home to work, doing so one or two days per week, and quickly got a taste for it. By the relaxed conversation and his positive demeanor I could tell it was the best for him, too, and he didn’t have to tell me directly.

Marilyn Roy was much the same way when she invited me into her home that is nestled into a quiet property on Mt. Thom.  The splashes of colour from her garden continued into her office with warm walls made vibrant with pictures of her family and a collection of straw sun hats.  Continuing to be professional, her office was made her own and the warmth of her spirit was evident while still being workplace functional. Working at Sobeys for twenty-nine years she “accidentally” fell into being the event planner for many corporate celebrations and conferences. As fate would have it, she fell in love with the chaos that comes with ensuring the minutest of details were taken care of and company executives were quickly convinced she was the best person for the role.

Marilyn is a great example of everything happening for a reason as her experience with a large corporation taught her more about herself than any other experience could. Taking home practices of efficiency as well as lifetime memories, she is now able to set her own schedule and reach further out into the community of Nova Scotia with her passion for planning.

Marilyn Roy Events is her new business name while she brings home her skills at planning both corporate and wedding events of any size. Marilyn takes great pride in ensuring even the smallest of details receive the greatest attention to ensure everything is just like you imagined, often even better than!

Keeping busy, Marilyn Roy also offers cake decorating and, she admitted, starting from a humble few cakes a year for her kids and grandkids, she has come a long way. Showing magnificent creations and taking great pride in having the latest of tools to ensure she can offer her clients exactly what they ask for – including gorgeous edible calla lilies!
Working from home is certainly not for everyone as it does require focus, discipline and drive but for people like Ann Lawson McGee, a self-proclaimed introvert, it can be ideal. Ann owns Millstream Cottage Crafts out of Westville and she understands the importance of focus as she sets her voicemail to take her calls when she’s working on her soaps and candles. As a business owner, she can also appreciate the need for connecting with others so sets up shop at the Pictou Market each summer, making as many friends and connections as she does sales.

Being recognized and hearing great things about your product as a business owner is exactly what is strived for. After deciding to leave Colchester County in 2008 Ann was in search of a community that offered a Farmer’s Market much like the one she was leaving in Truro. She talked with Joyce Battist, former owner of the Pictou “Crafters” Market, to understand this was too good of an opportunity not to take as it offered local artisans a spot to shine. Ann eventually decided to take over the Market from Joyce and began looking for a house in the area, settling in Westville.

Although I wasn’t able to meet Ann in person, her passion and pride was expressed beautifully in her thorough replies to my questions. Her advice is to know yourself and says working from home is not for everyone but can be the best thing you have ever done.
There are many work-at-home opportunities available so there is no need to look beyond the North Shore for a way to follow your dream. Even if your passions are not in line with what local companies are in need of, if you have the drive to work from home you can expand your location preference in your job search to be worldwide. It’s possible for you to work for a company based in Germany just down the hall from a family or roommate who works for a company in British Columbia!

Jean Nicol, Kings Head residence, understands this. Retired from working in the school system, Jean created a tool to help parents with Autistic children avoid stress related to meal time. The Eating Game, GAME standing for Get Awesome Meals Everyday, is a support tool for people with a broad range of eating challenges. Local business can sometimes seem like it is at a standstill but internationally seem to be just beginning.
Through her passion and dedication, Jean was making the right connections to lead her to Vancouver, British Columbia in 2015 to speak at an Autism Conference and Festival. She was also recognized by Tim Houston in December 2015 in the Nova Scotia House of Assembly for her hard work and dedication. She is a great example showing that working from home doesn’t mean staying within four walls.

This journey was just the beginning for Jean in respect to working from home as she was soon asked to work as the Communications Director for the ANCA World Autism Festival Team. Based out of British Columbia and beyond, it was not an issue for Jean to fulfill her duties from her home just minutes away from our beloved Melmerby Beach.

Jean, like Dan, is a veteran for working from home, making the opportunity available for herself when it was not as popular as it is now. After retiring twelve years ago she set up her home office to promote, create and ship her Eating Games through her own company EYECAN Creations. She enjoys the flexibility of setting her own hours, choosing where she works – “at a desk, in my lazy boy chair, sitting in my screened in deck space, anywhere that has WiFi , at the beach if I don’t need an Internet connection!”

As an early riser, even while working for ANCA, Jean can begin her work when she wakes at 5 AM and can break for tea without any of the preamble often required while working in an office.

For everyone, the perks of working from home – whether for their own small business or for another company – include flexibility, independence, convenience and the cost savings.

Social events are certainly not what you may expect for employees who are working out of their home, or really anywhere they have an Internet connection. Dan Langille commented that he carries his office in his pocket, referring to his cell phone which offers the ability to be called upon at any time, send emails and even video chat with a co-worker.  Isolation has become less of an issue for the telecommuting set, Apps such as Slack have become the answer to the office water cooler.  “There are so many ways to keep connected to your coworkers. Some times it is just a couple of jokes through the day on a social media platform that can keep people connected. Slack is great it gives my team a chance to meet daily on a social level and you know that there is a real person on the other side of the computer,” adds Dan.

Working from home allows for a new mobile way of working while maintaining your productivity, whether you’re in your pj’s at 3 PM on a Tuesday afternoon or watching a keynote presentation with your toes in the sand.

The few people described work a wide variety of jobs from the comfort of their respective homes. Completing an Internet search for “work from home jobs in Nova Scotia” results in a variety of websites with a vast amount of opportunities, no experience necessary for some. While there are postings with qualifications listed there are others which are flexible in who they are looking for. Being comfortable calling clients or skilled at writing reports are just two talents you may possess which companies are looking for. Another positive is that the company doesn’t have to exhaust their own community for skilled workers as you can live where you want to and offer what they need.

Job fairs are being held specific to opportunities which offer a better work/life balance that is inevitable when you can avoid travelling into an office. This has the potential savings of a second car, gas and, most importantly, a lot of time as your resources are just down the hall or stairs. With our well-known winters staying at home can be much safer, too, not to mention cozier!

As many great opportunities as there are, and more so if you have a business plan of your own, applying to some postings require a bit of research and gut instincts. Before sending your application online ask yourself a few questions such as – Is this a realistic job offer? Am I familiar with the company? How long have they been in business?
Find something that works with your schedule and ensure you put back as much as you would if you were in an office. It can be easy to get distracted with household chores or friends visiting so be sure to respect your schedule and deadlines.

TEN REASONS to Keep Receipts for Tax Deductions

1.    Deduct part of your power bill based on your work space.
2.    Maintenance costs to upgrade your office if necessary.
3.    Technology upgrades and systems
4.    Mileage when travelling for work purposes.
5.    Heating bill, whether it’s lumber, oil or electric costs
6.    Cleaning materials to maintain a tidy workspace
7.    Furniture
8.    Promotional expenses
9.    Business education/ workshops/ courses
10.  Professional memberships or subscriptions

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Sarah Butland has been embracing change and local talents while staying at home and will continue to celebrate the brilliance and wonder of Pictou County throughout the summer months. With books by local authors, beaches and trails in our own backyards, and the people who bring joy and laughter virtually, there really is no place like home.