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City girl brings job to the country

Staff writer

Kris Srajer and her husband, Jim, of Tampa, both grew up in Omaha, Neb. They went to the same high school, were in the same class, and graduated together in 1982.

Kris went on to obtain a degree in management information systems from the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

She was employed with Cable Services Group (CSG) in Omaha for five years. The large company provides account management and billing software to communications industries.

Kris quit her job in 1994 when she and Jim were married and she joined him at Tampa, where he had been farming for several years.

During his high school years, Jim had come to Tampa every summer to work on his Grandma Tillie Hein’s farm. Though he was a city boy, he loved the farm and jumped at the chance to be a full-time farmer. After a year at Kansas State University, he moved to Tampa and took over his grandmother’s farm.

After Kris joined Jim in Kansas, she worked for a year at Hillsboro, then got a call from her former boss, asking her if she would like to come back to her job and do it remotely by computer. She wasn’t sure if it would work but accepted the offer of a three-month trial period.

She took her job seriously and did everything required to make it work and has been at it ever since the birth of her oldest son, Grant, 13 years ago.

Before they started going to school, Grant and his younger brother, 9-year-old Cole, went to daycare so Kris could focus on her job.

She tests software, checks billings for accuracy, and makes sure programming is correct before it goes to customers.

One of the company’s clients is Dish Network. Kris is on a team of seven people. Some are programmers and some are testers.

Kris is at her desk in her spacious office at 7 a.m. every morning five days a week and works until 4 p.m. with a lunch break at noon.

Occasionally, she is required to get up during the night to fulfill a timely task for the company.

Kris said she gets paid well and has good benefits. The company provides insurance for the family, and Kris has a 401k account. She gets four weeks of paid vacation every year.

Once or twice a year, she goes to Omaha to spend a day or more at the company’s headquarters. That arrangement works well because it provides a convenient time for the family to visit parents and grandparents.

The Srajers live two miles northwest of Tampa.

“It’s wonderful to be working at home, especially where we live,” Kris said, “but I do miss interacting with people. I like the country a lot, but I miss getting to stores quickly. I can’t run errands during my lunch hour.”

She said she saves a lot of time not having to commute to work, and she can get up later.

She can eat lunch with her husband, and occasionally at noon they go to Tampa or Durham.

“It’s so great to have restaurants close by,” she said.

Several large windows in the office provide a sweeping view of the farm and surrounding countryside, which might prove to be a distraction for some.

However, Kris said she is careful to stay at her computer during working hours and to always be available to take phone calls.

“It takes a special person to work from home,” Kris said. “You have to keep focused on your job. But when you appreciate it, you don’t want to lose it or take advantage.”

Last modified Jan. 21, 2009

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