Payson ‘Perfect’ For Telecommuters

People discover they can work big-city jobs while living in a small town

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“Payson is the perfect telecommuters town,” said James Hohl, who helps patients squeeze through insurance mazes for a Wyoming hospital while rarely leaving Payson.

Process Engineer Hohl works for St. John’s Community Hospital, but spends most of his time in his Payson home office. From there, he guides patients through the maze of their insurance coverage so that they only receive one bill for services.

He and his wife Rachel spent several years struggling with the Wyoming winters before deciding they wanted to return to Arizona — but keep their jobs in Wyoming.

“We picked Payson because of the weather,” said Hohl, “but I like Payson, it

feels nice — it’s a small community.”

Hohl says Payson’s location next to the fifth largest city in the United States with an international airport, its natural beauty, and infrastructure make it the perfect town for a professional telecommuter to set up shop.

“I have everything I need here, Internet, office supplies ... I contribute to the local economy,” said Hohl. “I make local purchases.”

He proudly said he just bought a car from Chapman Auto Center. He also indulges his biking interest.

“My hobby is biking,” said Hohl, “I’m meeting other bikers through the Hike, Bike and Run store.”

While Hohl and his wife have separate jobs, other telecommuters in Payson prefer to keep it in the family.

Technical recruitment agency

John and Lorian Roethlein own a technical recruitment agency. Recently, they added their son to the roster.

Their business focuses on finding and presenting engineering companies with candidates.

“We’re hired by tech firms in Silicon Valley,” said Lorian.

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Lorian Roethlein and her husband John own a technical recruitment agency and use telecommuting to service their clients in Silicon Valley while living in Payson.

The Roethleins can work from anywhere, but chose to move to Payson because of the four seasons, people and outdoors.

Sometimes, they work from places other than their home. He has even closed deals fly-fishing.

Never the types to slow down, the Roethleins started the Farmers Market two years ago that has blossomed into a successful enterprise of its own. Lorian also helped to start the Unity Church in town.

“We already have 40 to 45 members,” she said. So successful had their business become in the last couple of years the two decided to expand and add on staff, but could not find the right person to work with — until they thought of their son.

“We brought our son in last May,” said Lorian.

Kyle and his girlfriend Kathy were living in Portland. Ironically, Lorian and John’s neighbors wanted to move to Portland — so the two families did a house swap.

When they moved to town, the young couple missed the culture of Portland, but soon found ways to fit in. Kathy started taking nursing classes at Gila Community College while Kyle enjoys work and nourishes his dirt bike and martial arts hobbies. “I hang out at the Triangle Arts martial arts gym and at Scoops,” Kyle said, “I looked up a (dirt bike) shop and found guys to ride with.”

Legal adviser to drug companies

Across town from the Roethleins, the Walas enjoy the freedom telecommuting offers with their family schedule. They have two teenage children who keep them on the go during the school year. During vacations, the family travels the world together.

“I work when my client needs to get something done,” said Laurel Wala.

Laurel started a law firm in Scottsdale focusing on pharmaceutical law. Her firm is one of the only firms to specialize in this area of law.

When her oldest son started school, she and her husband Devin, who worked in computer engineering, decided living in a small town would offer a life less hectic than if they lived in the city — but the way the children keep them going, it makes that hard to believe.

At 7:00 in the morning, the two tag team to make sure the children get to school on time.

“Did you get your lunch?” asked Laurel of her son Ryland as she steps toward the kitchen. He should leave in five minutes, but he’s still trying to get his backpack together.

“Sure,” said Ryland.

Usually Laurel does not make him a lunch, but now that he trains for track, she said he likes to eat healthy.

At 7:15, when Ryland should be at school, Devin starts the car and off they go, late, but at least on their way.

Lindsey waits for a family friend and her children to take her to school later. She enjoys having her parents at home.“I don’t have to have a babysitter,” she said.

Devin finds that he has to focus on transitioning from work to family mode.“I never get to come home at the end of the day,” he said. “That’s still an issue.”

He and Laurel make sure to balance their work and home life. Even though Laurel found the transition from working in an office to working at home a challenge, she could never go back.

“I have nightmares about going back to the office,” she said.

Besides the family time, another advantage of telecommuting Laurel appreciates is the chance to circulate money from outside of Arizona into Payson. “We love Payson and shop locally,” she said, “Because my clients aren’t in Arizona, when they pay me that’s money from outside circulating locally.”

Telecommuting benefits

Telework, as it has been called, offers numerous benefits —

For companies:

Lower overhead by providing less office space.

Increased productivity. Most companies report from 10 to 40 percent more output from employees. Hohl noticed a difference from the lack of office interruptions, “I feel more productive outside of the office,” he said.

Improved motivation. Employers report workers often feel an increase in trust from the company because of the independence allowed them.

Flexibility. Companies are less affected by weather, natural disasters, or transit strikes. Better customer service. Staff can work off hours with greater ease.

For employees:

Reduced travel time and costs.

Better work opportunities. No longer are employees limited to finding work close enough to commute.

Improved family life.

Flexible hours.

From the Teleworking webpage (www.eto.org.uk/faq/faq03.htm).

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