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News from the Greater Munising Area: Working remotely and securely from Alger County

JAYMIE DEPEW

From the Mojave Desert and Hawai’i to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Erica Maki, Senior Engagement Programs Manager, Marketing at LogMeIn, has assisted thousands of people across the globe while working remotely and promoting how to successfully do just that.

Erica, a Northern Michigan University alumna, works in the Unified Communications and Collaboration business unit for LogMeIn – an international “software as a service” (SaaS) company. She’s a “webinar pro” in that she’s hosted hundreds over the years – most of which focus on how to effectively use the company’s products, such as GoToMeeting and GoToWebinar.

After COVID-19 hit, LogMeIn webinars noted a significant increase of attendees.

“On average, we usually had 800 to 1,000 attend my webinars,” she said. “After COVID, we capped one webinar with over 3,000 people in session.”

To recognize the hard work of its employees during the pandemic, LogMeIn implemented a self-care day.

“In May, during Mental Health Awareness month, LogMeIn gave all of its employees an extra day off to take at some point during the month,” Erica said. “At first, some people still felt like they had to check their emails and work, but the company recognized that and mandated the same day off for everyone during the months that followed. We now have one ‘self-care day’ a month scheduled until at least September.”

About 10 years ago, Erica lived in the California desert with her husband Jason who was stationed at the Fort Irwin National Training Center. Due to its rural location, Erica found a job working remotely. She was hired by Citrix doing tech support and customer service for the company and eventually moved into marketing. Several years later, Citrix’s GoTo business merged with LogMeIn, enhancing the options for its customers to work remotely and securely.

Both natives of the Chatham area, Erica and Jason moved to Marquette for several years before building a house just last year down the street from where Erica grew up.

“I’ve always wanted to get back to Upper Michigan ever since leaving after graduating from NMU (’94 BA International Studies), studying in Mexico City, and living in South Carolina, Hawai’i, California, and New York to name a few. It’s like the saying – ‘You can take the girl out of the U.P. but you can’t take the U.P. out of the girl.’ And like anyone who grew up on Lake Superior knows, when you are away from the ‘Big Lake,’ you dream of swimming in that clean, refreshing water – there’s nothing else like it.

“That along with my husband retiring from 20 years as a Cav Scout in the US Army and wanting to be closer to ice fishing on Munising Bay and all of the access to endless miles of hunting, snowshoeing and skiing – and being closer to both of our families of course – and being able to take my job with me, we decided to take the leap and settle back in the county and community where we were born and raised,” she said.

Erica has high-speed internet – a necessity for remote work – through TDS Telecom in Chatham. Another requirement, she said, is having discipline.

“I have a separate room for an office – it’s a dedicated space where I can close the door and go to work. It does take discipline to not check your work email on your phone at all hours, but I don’t work from my couch, I don’t work poolside like all the cutesy unrealistic remote work pictures you see. I work from my office Monday through Friday,” Erica said.

While many businesses around the world have resorted to having their employees work remotely due to COVID-19, Erica believes trust between management and employees is essential.

“More businesses need to take leadership in trusting their employees to work remotely,” she said.

Erica’s advice to anyone seeking remote work:

-Have an updated LinkedIn profile

-Find out which companies have a great remote-work culture and network

-Take a chance – get out of your comfort zone, learn something new, apply your skills and experience even if it’s taking a job in a new industry

Editor’s note: This item was submitted by the Alger County Chamber of Commerce/ Greater Munising Bay Partnership for Commerce Development, Munising Downtown Development Authority and Munising Visitors Bureau.

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