Five years ago, Audrey Fairbrother was a newly-married Army spouse. Like so many others, she had just left behind everything she knew, including a great career, to move halfway across the country and live close to Fort Carson, Colorado, with her husband.
New home, new job; everything unfamiliar. To complicate matters, shortly after settling into their new lifestyle, her husband Jon was deployed. Just like that, Audrey was alone.
For military spouses, this is the norm: constant deployments, relocations, and unfamiliar faces. Thankfully, Audrey’s situation was different. Just before landing in Colorado, she joined the team at Boldly as a marketing specialist. And because the company is fully remote, she had the flexibility to stay with her family during Jon’s combat deployments without missing a beat — something that became increasingly important to her when her daughter, Addie, was born.
Audrey’s story opened my eyes to a reality I didn’t know existed, and deeply moved me.
You see, seven years ago, I started Boldly with a simple, yet slightly selfish, goal: I wanted to live and work in the middle of nowhere with my husband, our dogs and our sheep! Boldly was born as a remote-only company as the perfect solution to the 9-to-5, chained-to-an-office problem, that so many other professionals — myself included — faced.
Finally, we could work from anywhere, at any time. It was a dream come true.
A bigger vision
Working closely with Audrey and learning her story, though, made our vision a whole lot bigger than freedom and flexibility. It became about real life and real people for whom remote work isn’t just a ‘nice to have,’ it’s a necessity.
Audrey’s experience and skill allowed her to quickly advance to become our marketing manager, and with our wholehearted support, she became the cheerleader and advocate for military spouse employment.
Today, half of our company’s leadership and 30% of our entire team is comprised of military spouses. Why? Because after hiring dozens and dozens in the last five years, we’re spellbound by their talent, grit, and wide-ranging experience.
The truth is, if you didn’t have a behind-the-scenes view, you’d never know the challenges military spouses face. All you would see are great-performing employees who don’t bring what they’re going through to work.
Take Stephanie Johnson, an Air Force spouse and one of our team leaders, as an example. In a recent PCS, she was without furniture for almost a month, basically camping in their new house! Yet, she carried on and
was a complete professional.
Meaningful work, meaningful life
As a mom and Marine spouse, Devin Drake, a multi-talented executive assistant and project manager, felt like work was taking over. In her old job, she was constantly working and had no control over her time.
“I would get up early, drop my 7-year-old son off at school, then get him at 5 p.m. for a few hours of chaos before bedtime. Everyone was tired and no one wanted to talk to anybody,” Devin said. “When we relocated, I felt like I didn’t even know him because he spent most of his time away from me.”
After transitioning into a fully-remote, part-time position, though, things changed.
“Now, I’m totally available for him. I volunteer at his school and have four different roles. This is something I never could do before,” she explained.
Flexibility to care
Stacy Baker is a business support specialist with the most charming Virginia drawl you’ll ever hear. Recently, she had to make a move away from her successful corporate career, something that leaves many with anxiety.
Her husband, a disabled Marine veteran, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in the early 2000s. Since then, his health has declined, and Stacy knew it was time to be home with him. Isolation was difficult, and quality of life is tied so closely with personal connectedness — especially to our families.
“At my previous job I worked through lunch, for more than eight hours, every day. And I constantly had email notifications … and was expected to respond to emails at 8 o’clock at night,” Stacy explained.
With the change, though, she’s now able to have lunch with her husband every day and has the flexibility with her schedule to take him to every doctor’s appointment. However, there has been one change at Boldly she says has been difficult to get used to.
“From day one, my team leader has always asked, ‘How can I support you?’” Part of this means she had to gently set some boundaries with her, reminding Stacy, “You don’t have to have your notifications on all the time! You’re an adult, live your life and enjoy it. Support your clients but also take care of you.”
Honestly, that’s one of the traits we see in military spouses: they’re always taking care of everyone else first. In their homes, they’re the source of consistency, the glue that keeps everyone together through all the ups-and-downs of military life. This creates a special character and resilience you don’t often find.
A proud partner of military spouse initiatives
This is why one of my proudest moments was joining the Military Spouse Employment Partnership. At the end of a very-involved process, we became official partners.
Today, we seek out military spouses who are qualified because they always stand out as incredible candidates. I believe businesses who don’t are missing out on some of the most capable talent.
When you weave it all together, military spouses are just wonderful people who make lovely team members. We cannot wait to welcome more rockstars, like Audrey, Stephanie, Devin and Stacy, to our team.