Social group for remote workers in Alexandria

Central Lakes Remote Workers Society was organized by Danielle Thompson for at-home workers to socialize together

Danielle Thompson

ALEXANDRIA — A new local group is inviting remote workers for in-person gatherings.

Central Lakes Remote Workers Society was organized by Danielle Thompson, 38, of Alexandria last January for at-home workers to socialize together. They meet monthly for "happy hour" get-togethers to network, exchange tips and tricks and share humor and positivity, according to the group's Facebook description.

COVID-19 created a lot of challenges, especially for employers and their workers. How were people supposed to work when they couldn't gather in groups or be within six feet of each other? Fortunately — for some jobs — technology allowed some industries to keep on keeping on through remote work.

According to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), 190,000 Minnesotans were working from home in 2019 — 6.5% of the state's labor force. By 2021, 604,940 workers in Minnesota were teleworking. The article stated that the reason for the spike was due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The top five industries for remote workers according to (DEED):


  • Professional and technical services.
  • Finance and insurance.
  • Information.
  • Educational services.
  • Public administration.

Thompson was raised in Alexandria but moved away after graduating from high school in 2002. School and work moved her around the state and eventually, the country.
About five years ago, Thompson started working for a software company out of Lake St. Louis, Missouri called National Information Solutions Cooperative. She moved down and settled in but a few years later the pandemic started. Fortunately, Thompson was able to keep working remotely which opened up the choice of being able to keep working in Missouri or move back home to Alexandria. She chose Alexandria.

"It was nice to be able to move back to Alexandria to be close to my family, be back in Minnesota," said Thompson. She jokes that she sometimes questions her decision when winter hits.

Today, she is still with the Missouri-based company. And even though the pandemic is no longer the threat it once was, her position remains remote. She is thankful for the benefits of working remotely like being home close to family and being able to get chores done in between work meetings. But the downfall is the social aspect. No more in-office water cooler talks or making plans for after-work "happy hour" at the local watering hole. The desire of social interactions led her to create the Central Lakes Remote Workers Society.

"I figured there had to be other people living in Alexandria in a similar boat since COVID or since remote working has become more popular," she said.

Last January, Thompson created the group's Facebook page and put a call out to other remote workers looking for in-person interactions.

So far the group has had two meet-ups. The first one was in January at Copper Trail Brewing Company and the latest was on Thursday, Feb. 21 at Pike and Pint. Three workers, including Thompson, were at the first event with a growth of one by the second.

"Very humble beginnings," said Thompson.

Depending on the interest, Thompson plans on holding these meet-ups at least once a month and they won't always be for drinks.


"As more and more people get interested and more and more personalities and interests grow, we might do other types of events," said Thompson.

Those other events could be laser tag or an escape room or even some volunteer work, Thompson added.

"Social interactions are invaluable and sometimes we need encouragement to meet other people," said Thompson. "For me, it was nice to have an excuse to leave (my house)."

Those interested are encouraged to reach out via the group's Facebook page — Central Lakes Remote Workers Society.

Thalen Zimmerman of Alexandria joined the Echo Press team as a full-time reporter in Aug. 2021, after graduating from Bemidji State University with a bachelor of science degree in mass communication in May of 2021.
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