Remote Work Program News and Updates

7 Remote Work Myths: Separating Fact From Fiction

by Dr. Zen Parry,


There are many misconceptions surrounding being a remote worker. Here are some of the myths:

Myth 1: Remote Workers Are Less Productive Reality: The misconception that remote workers are less productive has been debunked by numerous studies. In fact, many remote employees report increased productivity due to fewer distractions, comfortable environments, and personalized work setups. Proper communication tools and management strategies can further boost productivity in a remote work setting.

Myth 2: Remote Work Is Isolating Reality: While remote work can involve periods of solitude, it doesn’t equate to isolation. Modern technology facilitates seamless communication and collaboration among remote teams. Video conferencing, messaging apps, and project management tools bridge the gap between colleagues, fostering a sense of camaraderie and teamwork.

Myth 3: Remote Workers Lack Discipline Reality: The assumption that remote workers lack discipline is unfounded. Remote employees often exhibit high levels of self-motivation and time management skills. They are responsible for structuring their workdays and meeting deadlines, which can enhance their discipline and autonomy.

Myth 4: Remote Work Is Only Suitable for Certain Industries Reality: While some roles may seem more suited to remote work, advances in technology have expanded remote opportunities across various industries. From creative fields to tech sectors, remote work can be tailored to accommodate a wide range of job functions, making it a versatile option for professionals.

Myth 5: Remote Workers Are Always Available Reality: Just as in traditional office settings, remote workers have set work hours and boundaries. The assumption that they are available 24/7 is misleading. Remote employees value work-life balance, and effective communication involves respecting their designated work hours.

Myth 6: Remote Work Is Temporary Reality: While the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of remote work, it’s clear that remote arrangements are here to stay. Many companies have recognized the benefits of flexible work models, and remote work is becoming an integral part of long-term business strategies.

Myth 7: Remote Work Equals Decreased Engagement Reality: Remote work doesn’t automatically lead to reduced engagement. With the right management practices, regular check-ins, and virtual team-building activities, companies can maintain high levels of employee engagement and satisfaction in remote settings.

Woman working remotely from home office.

In conclusion, separating remote work myths from reality is crucial for embracing its full potential. As remote work continues to shape the modern workforce, debunking these misconceptions will pave the way for productive, engaged, and successful remote teams. At, we’re dedicated to helping businesses and individuals thrive in the remote work landscape by providing valuable insights and resources.


How many remote workers are in Montana?

Working remotely is attributed to many things in Montana at the moment:  the housing crisis, the shortage of employees, and the influx of people from out of state. The data on the number of people working remotely in our state is available from a couple of sources, but may not match our perceptions of the actual frequency of remote work.

The U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey of 2021 shows that 14 percent of Montana workers worked from home compared to nearly 18 percent of Americans overall.  County-level data is only available for the highest population centers in Montana and indicates higher rates of home-based work including 18 percent in Gallatin County, 17 percent in Flathead County and 16.9 percent in Missoula County. 

In 2021, Montana State University Extension conducted a survey of people who moved into Montana communities over the previous five years called the newcomers study or Montana Movers Study.  The focus of the study was to determine why are people moving and how engaged they are in their new community.  The study included questions about remote work which showed that 9 percent of respondents worked remotely for someone else and 6 percent of their spouses work remotely for someone else.  In the same survey, 23 percent said they owned a business and it is possible that some of those business owners are remote workers.  Tara Mastel, one of the authors of the study, is often asked to present the results of the study to groups of community leaders to help them understand more about the changes occurring in their communities.  When sharing the results related to remote work, Mastel says that it is common for audience members to remark that they thought rates of remote work would be higher. 

Rates of remote work may actually be higher than some studies show.  A study from Pew Research Center found that 59 percent of workers in the U.S. are working from home all or most of the time.  Working from home is desirable to today’s workforce.  A 2022 study by McKinsey & Company found that 87 percent of people that were offered the opportunity to work remotely took advantage of the opportunity.  Job seekers said a flexible working arrangement that includes working remotely was one of the top three motivators for seeking a new job.

Shortages of workers continue across every type of organization.  Graduates from MSU Extension’s Remote Work Certificate course are forced to seek employment at out-of-state companies due to the low number of remote jobs at Montana-based companies. Increasing the awareness that Montana has trained workers seeking employment in remote communities in Montana could ease the workforce shortage for some of Montana’s organizations.


Efforts to Boost Remote Work Continue

Remote work offers great promise for people in the workforce who want to work but cannot work in-person due to distance, injury, disability, or other circumstances.  Montana State University’s Remote Work Certificate Course is a great option for those who have experience working with computers.  Montana Business Assistance Connections (MBAC) of Helena has a vision for the potential of remote work and has sought out additional ways to make it more accessible to this important group of workers who need an alternative to in-person work.

Through its research of remote work opportunities, MBAC discovered the Kentucky-based nonprofit Teleworks USA that trains remote, rural workers with low technical skills to be remote workers.  Teleworks USA not only provides a unique hands-on training program for potential workers but it has direct ties with national employers seeking to hire remote workers.  The week-long virtual training sessions includes education and assistance with completing applications and interviews at these partner companies.

MBAC has partnered with Career Training
Institute of Helena, Job Service of Helena and Sanders County and Sanders County Community Development to offer the Teleworks USA training in Montana five times in the last year.  Classes have been small but the impacts have been significant.   Nearly everyone that completed the training gets an interview.  Nearly everyone that interviews is offered a job.  Jobs are back-office type customer support positions with advancement opportunities, and they start at $15 per hour.  Teleworks USA follows up with participants to make sure things are working out.  The class is $600 when taken virtually.  Assistance with the course fee may be available through Job Service or Voc Rehab for existing clients. Teleworks USA is a great option for people who need a job but may not have experience with computers.  

Training for Remote Job Opportunities flyer

The connections with employers is a great advantage for Teleworks USA because translating in-person skills to remote work is a challenge for some.  The Remote Certificate Course offered by Montana State University Extension is still a great option as it is suitable for any industry and any level of employee.  The Remote Work Certificate course includes education on how to find a remote job, connections to some job listings as well as assistance in a job search from specially trained counselors from Montana Job Service but it does not have direct connections to jobs which is a challenge for some participants. 

Between the Teleworks USA training and MSU Extension’s Remote Work Certificate, there are more options for Montanans to learn about and find a remote job to increase their in
come and to help them meet their potential.
Upcoming dates for Teleworks USA training: 
  • May 8-12, offered virtually
  • June 5-9, offered virtually
Contact Job Service Manager Carol Rule at 406-447-3215 for specific questions about funding through Job Service.  If you are a Vocational Rehabilitation client, contact your counselor.  For more information on the class contact [email protected] or Tara Mastel at [email protected].

Updated Remote Work Certificate Course Participant Survey for 2022

Remote Work Certificate Course participants were surveyed to understand the impact of completing the course. Overall, most participants did not have remote work experience prior to taking the course.  Participants may have sought out remote work to increase their wages as the survey showed that only 56 percent said they believed there were adequate wages available in their local region.

Participants were asked what was most important for their ideal work situation and 82 percent said flexible hours. Slightly less important were a good manager relationship (78%) and personal growth (76%).

After completing the course, 98 percent said their value as a remote worker improved and they felt empowered to seek remote work (96%).  Even so, only 68 percent said they intended to seek remote work opportunities.

The data reflect what we hear anecdotally from course participants that finding a remote job is challenging.  More or different kinds of assistance with finding remote work may be helpful.  Only 35 percent of those surveyed found remote work, taking an average of 6 months to do so.  A full 65 percent did not find remote work.  Even though the number that found remote work was relatively low, 63 percent of those who did not find remote work said they were confident in their ability to do so.  

Finding remote work is worth it.  A participant that found remote work experienced an increase in median salary of 113 percent.  Total salaries across all participants who found remote work increased by 73 percent.

For more information, view the complete report at


Remote Work Sought to Overcome Distance, Disability and Desire for Flexibility

As we enter into the third calendar year of offering the Remote Work Certificate course, we thought it would be worth looking back on who has taken the course and why.

Since hosting our first class in May 2021, 74 people have completed the Remote Work Certificate course (RWC) Exit Survey.  According to the Survey, 73 percent said they intended to seek remote work and twenty percent said “maybe” they would seek remote work.  Seventy-seven percent of participants were women. Course enrollment doubled in 2022 from 24 participants in 2021 to 50 in 2022. 

We know from conversations with participants that the RWC appeals to people for whom in-person work isn’t ideal because of their rural location, an injury, a disability.  Many indicate their interest in part time work because they are retired or soon to be retired.  We know from the Exit survey data that 29 of the 74 participants to date are 50 years old or older.  Interest in part time and flexible work was confirmed in a separate survey of past participants conducted by MSU Extension. The MSU Extension Survey showed that 78 percent were seeking work with a flexible schedule. One participant said it best when they added “I am getting older and want to be able to have more choice in my work schedule and more flexibility in the work that I do.”

The biggest challenge for participants of the RWC is finding the right position. MSU Extension is working with Job Service of Montana to help solve this problem, but the challenge persists. Comments from the Exit Survey indicate that finding the right fit was the biggest barrier to the participant working remotely.  The survey responses confirm what we hear from participants as they complete the course – they struggle to find job opportunities that fits their skills, interests, income, and schedule requirements. Other barriers shared by participants include their age, their experience, their own confidence, and a disability.

The MSU Extension survey asked why participants were interested in remote work, again, confirming what we have heard in our conversations with participants. Some tried remote work during the pandemic and liked it. Nine participants said they want to work remotely due to their remote, rural location. A participant described their situation like this, “I live in a small town with few employment opportunities other than fast food or Walmart. I have skills that I believe would be better suited to other opportunities than those offered where I live.” Eight participants said that their interest in remote work is because of an injury or disability. One shared the following: “I have some health issues and cannot do the kind of work I have done for most of my life. I am looking into remote work as a way to increase my income.”  These participants view remote work as an opportunity to work and earn income despite their health challenges. 

Since we began offering this course through MSU Extension, Montana has had the highest participation of any of the nine affiliate states that offer the RWC. Remote work makes sense for Montanans, and we are glad to be able to offer a high-quality, educational program for people for want to pursue this option.


What is A Remote Work PC?

Montana State University Extension is an affiliate of the Certified Remote Work Professional (CRWP) course with Utah State University Extension's Remote Online Initiative (ROI). The CRWP course provides participants with the knowledge and skills to find and secure remote work opportunities.
MSU Extension Community Development embraces the program mission of preparing rural communities for the future, by offering relevant educational experiences, connecting people to modern employment opportunities, and developing innovative solutions for community needs.
To that end, MSU Extension Community Development has a small group of people, each who serves as a Program Coordinator (PC). A PC is also known as a personal coach or teaching assistant (TA). So, what does a PC do? The main job of the PC is to help Montana participants navigate the Remote Work course.
During the four-week session, students have workshops, assignments and quizzes that cover a variety of topics related to the intricacies of remote work. The PC supports the students to better understand these concepts, and guides them through the weekly modules, but still allows them to be independent, as remote work requires. PC’s also grade their assignments and provide constructive feedback on their work.
All the Montana PC’s have taken the Remote Work course, so they know exactly what is expected from the students. Additionally, they regularly attend the weekly workshops and observe the participation of the students.
As stated before, the goal of this course is to provide students with the skills and knowledge to pursue a remote job, whether it be as a remote worker, freelancer, or entrepreneur. Once students earn their certificate, we work with Job Service Montana to connect interested students with counselors that can work with them on that next step in their journey.
As a PC, you get to know people from across Montana, their stories of why they are taking the course, which are always different, and what they want for their future. Hearing what this course meant to them is inspiring, but the success stories of them finding remote work and achieving what they’ve work so hard for is the biggest reward.

Course Prepares Participants for Remote Work

Participants of the ROI course come away feeling like they are equipped to find a remote job according to results of a survey of participants after they have completed the course.  Here are some additional tidbits from the Utah State University Extension evaluation:

  • 98% said their value as a remote worker improved after taking the course
  • 98% said they felt empowered to seek remote work
  • 28% of participants surveyed found remote work
  • 86% of those who did not find remote work said they were confident in their ability to do so.
  • Of those that did find remote work, they experienced an increase in median salary of 88%
  • Participants took an average of two months to find a remote job
  • Roughly 56% of those who found remote work believed their median salaries would likely increase by 24% over the next year
  • After the course, participants said they were better able to:
    • Balance their professional and personal lives
    • Manage their professional and personal productivity
    • Communicate digitally
    • Use online technology
    • Manage their careers
    • Work as a team member

For a full report of the findings of the study, visit

Another opportunity to gain remote work experience

A new course focused on finding a remote job is now available from The Rural Online Initiative. This self-paced course is designed to supplement the Rural Online Initiative’s Certified Remote Work Professional (MRWP) online certificate course. It is not required to complete this certification before enrolling, but is highly recommended. This professional certificate requires approximately 10 hours to complete!  To apply for

Remote Job Search: Skills for Success course, go to

Beta test of remote work training June 6-10 in Helena

Remote work training flyerA one-week in-person training for remote work jobs is planned for June 6-10 at CTI in Helena.  The jobs are full-time with national and global employers in retail, tech support and customer service and they start at $15 per hour.  There is a  cost for the training but financial assistance is available.  Contact Carol Rule at 406-447-4215 or Jasyn Harrington at   406-447-0800 for more information.  The deadline for registering is June 1st.

This training opportunity was made possible by the folks at Montana Business Connections (MBAC) in Helena.  MBAC has been researching ways to increase remote work in Montana  for some time which led them to the Kentucky-based nonprofit Teleworks USA, that trains rural workers specifically for jobs with partner employers.  Teleworks will be conducting the June training in partnership with CTI, Job Service of Montana and MBAC. 

The MSU Remote Work Course is an excellent option for helping people that have good familiarity with computers learn the skills needed for remote work.  This in-person training in June is another option that may be great for people for people who have lower levels of computer literacy.  The training will “teach to the test” and is a more direct connection to specific jobs through Teleworks USA. 

You're Hired! Success with Remote Work

Dustin, a single dad in south central Montana, took the Remote Work Certificate Course in late 2021 in order to find a remote job that he could do and still be able to take care of his young children.  He had past experience in the tech industry and in customer service. 

You're Hired graphicAfter finishing the Remote Work Certificate Course, Dustin searched for job opportunities using LinkedIn and applied for technical support jobs.  Very quickly, a remote security company reached out to him for an interview.  Dustinworked with JessicaWilhelmat the Miles City Job Service to prepare for his interview.  Soon after the interview, Dustin was offered the job. Dustin’s new employer sent him a computer andother equipment he needed and he has been working full time for them since.  

Dustin said “I like working remote for the simple fact that I can have my kids home while I earn a living. I especially like not having to commute, which saves me money.”  When asked if he had any advice for people considering taking the Remote Work Certificate Course, Dustin said “The course just changed my mindset and made me more attractive to an employer for a remote job. I am sincerely grateful for the Remote Work Course and the help I received from the Miles City Job Service.”

Can We Keep Montana’s Remote Workers for Montana-based Companies?

Keeping Montana’s remote workers “home” or working for Montana companies is of great interest to many in Montana’s economic development community given our current workforce shortage.  The challenge is connecting graduates of the Remote Work Certificate course to Montana employers with jobs to fill that could be done remotely.

Searching for job online using laptop.

Currently, most jobs listed on remote job boards used by graduates are with out-of-state employers.  An effort is underway to help connect Montana-based employers to graduates of the Remote Work Certificate course thanks to Chris Manos and Brian Obert at MBAC and others.  Montana-based employers may be able to tap into some of our hard-working, loyal Montana workforce located across the state by reviewing open positions to see if they could be done remotely.  With over 70 graduates of the MSU Extension Remote Work Certificate course, the right employee might be just down Montana’s long main street.

March Class Participation Ties Largest Group To Date

The number of March participants was 10, matching to record to date, as February set the record. Let's see how we do in April! Find out more or register here:

February Class is Largest to Date

MSU Extension first offered the Remote Work Certificate course in May 2021 in Montana.  Since it launched, there have been Montanans taking the course every month except July and December when it is not offered.   In the February 2022 class, we had ten participants from Montana in the course which is the largest course to date. 

Participants come from all over the state including Miles City, Sidney, Glendive, Billings and Belgrade.  They are seeking to learn about remote work, serving clients remotely for a business and finding a new way to work after an injury.

The Remote Work Certificate program is a one-month course that teaches participants how to find remote work, tools typically used by remote workers and how to separate work from home life for professionalism and long-term success as a remote worker.  Course participants complete a group project and interact with other participants each week in a discussion-based virtual workshop.  Find out more or register here:


Survey of MT Remote Work Graduates Underway

More than 60 Montanans have graduated from the Remote Work Professional course.  To get a better understanding of how well the course fit the needs of participants, MSU Extension is conducting a survey to show how many have found remote work, what participants thought of the course and what could be done to improve the course. 

People who complete the survey by March 4th, will be entered to win one of five prizes valued at $25 each which include either a one-month subscription to the remote job board Flexjobs or an Amazon gift card.  Past participants can complete the survey here:


Remote Work Helps Montana Workers Find Success

The recent rise in remote work presented an opportunity for people to stay in their small towns and still secure a good job. In 2021, MSU Extension launched the Remote Work Certification Course to help Montanans learn the skills they need to work remotely. 

Mom working remotely from home.The content of the remote work course was developed and is maintained by Utah State University Extension as part of a significant investment by the Utah state legislature to boost employment in rural Utah. The course is offered in Montana through a partnership between Utah State University Extension and Montana State University Extension. To date, over 50 Montanans have taken the course.

MSU Extension faculty serve as coaches to help Montana participants through the course. Thanks to a partnership with Job Service Montana, trained Workforce Consultants help graduates find a remote job. Graduates interested in creating or expanding a remote business will work with Accelerate Montana’s Rural Innovation Initiative at the University of Montana. 

The course provides the knowledge and skills needed to transition to work from home so participants can access higher paying jobs while remaining in their community. 

“There is so much more you can do when you can expand

from looking at just jobs in your local area.”

The cost of the course is $199 and enrollment for the next class closes February 2, 2022. For more information, course dates and registration information, go to

For more information about the Remote Work Professional Certification program, contact Tara Mastel at 
[email protected].


What is the Remote Work Certificate Program?

Employees participating in a Zoom meeting.The Remote Work Professional certificate is a month-long course that teaches skills needed to be successful with online work. Participants learn on-line tools common to remote work as well as skills crucial to working with a remote team such as written communication, problem solving, time management, collaboration, goal setting, organization, and accountability.  

The course is delivered in a self-paced, online format which includes four discussion-based virtual workshops. The course is offered monthly except for December and July.  

For more information or to register, go to