Aimee Flores was leery about what she was hearing on Good Morning America. A guest on the show was promoting the benefits of the work-at-home position a company in her home state of Colorado, Alpine Access, was offering.
While Flores was cautious, the story came at a challenging time in her life. She was working at the daycare where her kids, one-and-three years old at the time, were attending. She wasn’t happy. “I was really dissatisfied with the daycare center management. I wasn’t comfortable with the classroom my kids were moving into.”
And then Flores started getting sick. “I was going through a lot of testing. I didn’t know what was going on. And although I scheduled appointments for doctors outside of work whenever possible, the director wasn’t supportive. She didn’t understand what I was going through. I was stressed out being in that position. It was just too much for me.”
When she saw the Good Morning America segment she sensed an opportunity, although a temporary one. “My thought was, even if it’s not legit or long term, it will get me some income so I can take care of my kids, my house and have some flexibility and still contribute to the family.”
Flores got a part time job, working just 10-12 hours per week. She worked around her kids’ school schedule while taking care of her own health care needs.
Soon she learned two things. She had rheumatoid arthritis. And she loved her new job.
That was 11 years ago. Today, what started as a part time job for a company she was skeptical about, has turned into a career. She is an account manager, running two programs and responsible for nearly 90 work-at-home agents. Alpine Access has since merged with SYKES.
She attributes her growth at the company to the support she received. “The company really invested in me. They allowed me to grow at my own pace. So I was able to work as a part-time agent, while I was a mom of very little children and dealing with my disease. There was never pressure for me to grow into a role. But once the kids started getting older, and I was able to commit more hours, I was able to work it around the kids.”
Flores is also grateful for how her job helped her be a positive role model for her children.
“SYKES has allowed me to teach my kids a better work ethic. They don’t just see me get up in the morning and leave the house. They see me come down for lunch, or take my breaks, and they see how hard mom works. They’ve seen me at meetings at 8:00 at night, or when they get up in the morning mom’s already put in four hours. And so I think that’s going to give them a better understanding of what it means to work and be responsible.”
The benefits to Flores’ children are not all work related. “When they are sick, they know that momma’s going to be at home. I may not be with them, but they know that momma’s there and they’re not at a babysitter’s house.”
Flores also feels more connected to her team members. She thinks the primary reason is the ability of virtual workers to move beyond shallow judgments of each other.
“I think you remove the materialistic in virtual work. We’re all people behind the computer, experiencing the same struggles. I’ve had connections with coworkers where their kids call me auntie. Or I’ve seen agents that you’d think have known each other for years and actually lived next door to each other.”
Early on, Flores benefited from the support of her account manager, Kirsten Scott, who coached her into opportunities that helped her advance through the organization. No longer Flores’ account manager, she and Scott are still bonded. “Kirsten is my best friends. I have a four-year-old niece who recently lost her battle to cancer. Kirsten’s been my rock. She’s the one I call in the morning when I’m crying and in tears. She’s been the one to support me.”
The other part of working at home that Flores appreciates is the flexibility, which has helped her be a productive worker while living with rheumatoid arthritis. “It was a turning point for me, just realizing you can work a full time job and have a disability, and still be able to contribute. To have an employer who would allow me to take the time off I needed for a doctor’s appointment. To have leadership above me that is supportive of that. There was never a fear there.”
Flores dreams of writing a book about being a work-at-home mom. She laughs. “I remember stories about having your kids go outside because you’ve got a meeting, and you forget they’re out there, and they’re huddled under a table because it’s hailing. I want to tell stories like that.”
Eleven years ago, Flores had doubts about working from home as she watched Good Morning America. Today, there is no hesitation.
“I love the environment. I love my team. I have the kind of job I’m happy with. I want to get out of bed in the morning ready to do my job. Not because I have to, but because I love it.”
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