Working from home won't mean working alone 

Fledgling group would bring together remote workers, consultants living in whistler

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If you could work from home, and your home could be anywhere, where would you choose to live?

The answer for a growing number of remote workers and consultants looking for the right lifestyle is Whistler. The proximity to Vancouver, and the fact that Whistler boasts the cell network and Internet bandwith of a much larger city, makes it possible to have the career you want while living your dream.

But there's more to it than building a home office in your laundry room, or working on your laptop at a coffee shop. Debra Peterson and Trina Talarico met at a Women of Whistler meeting back in January, and in discussing their telecommuting lifestyles realized that it would be beneficial to connect with other remote workers, consultants and contract workers that are based in the resort.

"One reason is just to get out of our cubbyholes and get into a community," said Peterson, who does contract consulting work for Cisco Systems. "We all spend a significant part of our day working independently, and a lot of us would jump at the opportunity to get out and meet people and network with others in similar situations."

Peterson and Talarico are launching an organization called the Network for Consultants and Remote Workers of Whistler, or NCRWW. They first approached the Whistler Chamber of Commerce to get their opinion, and have received the chamber's support.

It's a grass roots idea right now, but they're hosting their first official event on June 25 with two speakers — Jennifer Wyne, the Associate Director of Human Resources for KPMG, based in Seattle, and Allen Neilson, a principal in Nielson-Welch Consulting.

The event runs from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Whistler Public Library. The speakers were chosen because they represent both groups that the NCRWW is trying to reach — remote workers and consultants, in addition to contract workers.

Depending on interest — and Peterson said the idea has been well received so far — the group could meet on a regular or even monthly basis. As well as guest speakers, the goals of the group include:

• Sharing best practices and lessons learned from working remotely in Whistler.

• Encouraging on-going learning and professional development.

• Expanding resource networks so remote workers and consultants will know others with various skill sets in the community that they can draw on for assistance with various work.

• Facilitating opportunities for dialogue and the creative exchange of ideas, strengthening the work as independents.

• Exploring the unique needs and interests of this sector in Whistler and whether there are things to explore as a collective to strengthen individual business experience.

While the first few meetings will determine the level of interest and engagement, Peterson said it's anyone's guess where it could go. She pointed to similar professional organizations that have created things like dedicated work spaces and professional development opportunities.

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