Regional Australia is full of “overskilled and underworked” women who married farmers.

That’s according to the founder of one start-up connecting remote workers with employers.

Experienced marketing professional Jo Palmer, founder of start-up Pointer Remote Roles, created her business after realising these educated and experienced women were underutilised in the Australian workforce.

“It’s an untapped talent pool,” Palmer says. “One third of Australian women live in rural and regional communities.”

The kind of tech jobs that can be done remotely include UX and UI design, website design and refresh, and IT help desk work.

“We have businesses wanting to get online but cannot justify hiring someone full-time to do this,” Palmer says. “A remote worker can do this and the business doesn’t need to recruit a long-term employee.”

The Rock

Say ‘The Rock’ and the first thing that comes to mind may be a bulky American actor.

But for Palmer, The Rock is home – a small town, population of 860, about half an hour south of Wagga Wagga.

That’s where Palmer ended up after marrying “a local” and went on to live on a farm.

She soon realised that she, along with her large network of female friends, had a lot to offer employers.

She created Pointer Remote Roles to hook up candidates to roles they could do from anywhere.

The challenge, she says, is convincing businesses the arrangement can work.

“An employer might say to me ‘What if the worker does a load of washing in work hours?’ and I say ‘So what? As long as KPIs are being met and everyone is happy, what’s the problem?”

Palmer and her staff vet all candidates, checking references and that their phone and internet connection are up to scratch.

Kill the commute

Palmer says Pointer is not just for regional workers. It’s for anyone – male or female – who would prefer to work from home.

Whether it’s avoiding a hellish commute or simply working around family commitments, there are workers who would prefer to not be in an office environment.

“I don’t care where you live,” says Palmer. “Some people don’t like going into the office, and that’s fine.”

Candidates sign up for $75 to ‘get on the books’. When a job is posted by a business, it is sent to those who expressed interest in that role type.

In the past two years, Palmer has filled “60-odd jobs”, including recently placing a woman in a full-time remote working role paying $125,000.

As the popularity of flexible work booms, Palmer is urging businesses to consider alternatives to the full-time worker in the office.

“Ask yourself, ‘do I need to have this person physically next to me?', because if you don’t, remote workers can fill the position.”