Technology allows people to work where they live, not just live where they work

TRANSFORMED: Wagga entrepreneurs Michelle Bray and Jo Palmer can conduct business over coffee thanks to technologically-advanced ways of working outside a traditional office.
TRANSFORMED: Wagga entrepreneurs Michelle Bray and Jo Palmer can conduct business over coffee thanks to technologically-advanced ways of working outside a traditional office.

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At first glance, Michelle Bray and Jo Palmer are just two old friends catching up over coffee. But in reality, they’re two Wagga entrepreneurs holding a business meeting.

They’re part of a digital revolution that’s transforming the way Australians do business and Wagga’s at the forefront of the movement.

“I’ve got a contract with someone in Gympie and I just got an email about doing some work for someone in Brisbane,” Ms Bray said.

“You do all of that work from your computer, so you don’t need to physically be in front of your clients.

“We’re on the cusp of a digital revolution and I think the workforce needs to plan for the future.”

Remote workplaces are one of Ms Palmer’s specialities. As the founder of Pointer, her business is built around helping businesses find the right person for the job, regardless of where they live.

“When you’re filling a role now you’re not restricted by geography,” Ms Palmer said.

“People ask me how they can tell if their workers aren’t just doing the washing – well if you don’t trust them don’t employ them!

“Being at work doesn’t mean just being at a desk in an office.”

Former Mater Dei student Mitch Harmer is using remote work tools like Slack to allow his business to grow. Based in Canberra, SignOnSite now has remote staff in Melbourne and he’s actively looking for someone in Sydney. 

“A corner shop can only sell to the neighbourhood, a digital product can be sold to the world,” Mr Harmer said. “I can work from Wagga when I come home to visit, but we’re also looking at expanding internationally as well.”

Di Somerville, creator of the Australia Post Regional Pitchfest, was working from Freemantle when The DA spoke to her on Thursday.

“I was in Darwin yesterday, I can work from anywhere in the world, the internet allows you to do that,” Ms Somerville said.

“You can afford to live in a better environment, have a better lifestyle and spend time with the kids.

“It’s been a hard slog for people like Simone Eyles, but now Wagga’s got this reputation as a regional hub for digital entrepreneurs and there’s a great flow-on effect.”

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