At Victory Auto Service in Brooklyn Park, mechanics want to hear that customers are satisfied in the shop and online.
"Our online reputation is the most important thing we manage," said Jeff Matt, owner of Victory Auto Service & Glass with locations in Ham Lake, Brooklyn Park, Chanhassen and Fridley.
Matt hired Stephanie Gutierrez two years ago to manage aspects of the company's website, maintain social media accounts and handle other marketing and communications.
"She has a unique perspective on everything and can really boil it down for the average person to understand," said Matt.
Only five months after Gutierrez started working, she came to Matt's office to put in her notice. She had decided to move to Lima, Peru with her family of four to help with missionary work. Her husband's family had started a mission there around 25 years ago, and the young family hoped to help continue the work.
Jeff Matt asked Gutierrez to consider working from Peru using technology like Skype, email, social media and phone.
"Communication is really not the barrier that it was a few short years ago," said Matt.
Technology is allowing more people to work from home. Research firm Forrester says more than 34 million people currently work from home and an estimated 63 million people are expected to work from home by the year 2016.
"I thought [working from Peru] would be fantastic," said Gutierrez. "It lets me keep my English and job skills really fresh and sharp so one day when we move back to the U.S., I'll be able to be very current on all of that."
So far, working remotely has worked for the past year and a half. Stephanie emails daily and schedules a Skype conversation every few weeks. She logs 20 hours a week for Victory Auto Service and Glass.
"What I miss the most is face to face interactions," said Gutierrez. "I miss just the camaraderie of being with the staff and being in the shop and experiencing those fun moments that go on during the day."
Like most telecommuters, Gutierrez does check into work in-person from time to time. During her two month visits home to Brooklyn Park, she schedules time to work in the shop. But while she's overseas, Gutierrez knows she can meet her deadlines and complete her work back home by call or click.
Shannon Slatton, reporting
Monday, June 25, 2012