Telework equips workers to handle job loss

The day Valerie McCarty learned she would be laid off, she recalls, "You could have knocked me over with a feather."

After all, she had been with the international TV company for 5 years, most recently as vice president of marketing and communications. She had built relationships. She grew the company's brand. She enjoyed her work.

But by the next day, McCarty was bullish about her future - due in part to her experience teleworking.

When McCarty came off maternity leave last February, she began working from her south Florida home two days per week. She and her husband each set up dedicated workspaces in the converted bedroom. They outfitted the closets with filing cabinets and storage shelves, and connected the computer to a cable modem and two printers. They added a business line and a dedicated fax line as well.

So today, as her colleagues fret over finding new jobs and some lament losing the only office they've ever known, McCarty's heading full time into an environment in which she's quite at home.

Equally important, though, is McCarty's positive mental attitude. "This change has saddened me, but not freaked me out," she says. As a senior executive, McCarty was a decision-maker overseeing a team of 12. She traveled extensively throughout the U.S. and Latin America, lead new initiatives and helped the company expand. Working from home and on the road has fostered in her a sense of independence - an entrepreneurial spirit that's invaluable as McCarty assumes a new job search.

To be sure, she will miss her peers and the buzz of the corporate hive. But over time, she's realized, "I can be an effective manager outside the workplace and an effective worker from home."

Such insight might even leave McCarty in a better position to land a job as a full-time teleworker. Because her home region doesn't have a large corporate employment base, local jobs could be scarce. But in a 10-year career spent with two of the largest media companies in the world, McCarty knows how to do her job.

Besides, with toddler Hannah about, she's not keen on relocating or taking a job with a grueling schedule.

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