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Remote Work Key for Military and Other Spouses Who Move Frequently

Working from home provides continuity no matter where (and how often) you relocate.

Since we recently honored our military servicemen and women on Veteran's Day, I have been thinking a lot about those who support them: military spouses. I had the opportunity to meet with military spouses earlier this month when I spoke at the National Military Spouse Network Military Spouse Employment Summit. My focus was on maintaining career continuity as a military spouse. Frequent moves make career continuity a challenge for military spouses, but remote work, meaningful volunteer experiences, portable careers, and transferable skills keep resumes strong until spouses can settle in one area permanently and resume a more conventional career.

Military spouses use remote work extensively as they move from base to base every two to three years. For example, military spouse Christina Crawford, was a top sales representative and a Director for Stampin' Up, a home-based stamp and craft business as she moved from base to base over a 20-year period. Christina worked remotely out of her home, picking up more customers and more military spouses who wanted to work as demonstrators on her team, ultimately leading a team of 1000. Christina and her team sold over $45 million worth of Stampin' Up products during her tenure with the company, pulling in annual income "in the six figures." Christina told the military spouse audience she pulls in income "in the six figures" from her Stampin' Up business. Christina then settled in Fairfax, Virginia where she ran Chic Envy, the "upscale" consignment store she founded with her daughter for nine years. Christina was subsequently recruited to a new direct sales company, EVER, where she was promoted four times in three months.

At the Summit, I met military spouse Karen Francis, who combines work as a virtual assistant, paralegal, and freelance writer in her remote career. Summit organizer and National Military Spouse Network Founder Sue Hoppin, "America's Military Spouse Connector," has been working remotely as a consultant on military spouse issues for years after leaving her position as Deputy Director for Spouse Outreach for the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA). Even while holding the MOAA job, Sue worked remotely to co-author A Family's Guide to the Military for the DUMMIES series. Prior to the Summit, I connected with Monica Brady, a military spouse who worked remotely as a virtual assistant before establishing the Mommy Brain Reports product review and giveaway site when her husband got out of the Marines.

The Summit also included employers interested in hiring military spouses. Employers DXT Technology (formally CSC), and Bernard (formerly American Support) have the capability to hire military spouses and allow them to stay employed, often via remote work arrangements, as they move from base to base with their serviceman or woman. The profiles of these two companies could not be more different: CSC DXT is a corporate IT services provider with a global workforce of 135,000, and Bernard is a 30-year-old, 6000-employee company providing back office support to their customers throughout the U.S. Both companies offer a range of remote working opportunities, and they are especially interested in the military spouse population to fill these roles. Representatives from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management and the U.S. Secret Service also spoke about their interest in hiring spouses, and their programs to help more spouses get hired, which included remote work opportunities.

I am inspired by the way in which military spouses are making remote work part of their career continuity strategy. I am also encouraged by the employers eager to engage with military spouses through remote work opportunities. We should play close attention to how military spouses and the employers who hire them use remote work arrangements, as we can all learn from their example.

More information on the National Military Spouse Network is here.

This commentary, since updated, was originally part of Microsoft's "Your Office, Your Terms" Forum

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