4 Years of Community

On 23rd September, our community will lead a nationwide programme of offline events for remote workers. From musical workshop for kids, art gallery gatherings and No Hangover dance parties, remote workers across the island are celebrating their local community’s culture!

As a non-profit community organisation, Grow Remote is pursuing its mission to bring together remote workers locally to make a positive social, environmental and economic impact in their home villages, towns and cities. The upcoming partnership with Culture Night (Ireland’s largest all-island festival) and We Act (the national campaign for charities and community groups) marks the fourth anniversary of our very first event in Tralee on 28th September 2018.

The world of remote work has changed dramatically since then. What was once a fairly niche professional arrangement in most companies has become the default way of working for a large number of Irish workers. The attitudes to, and awareness of, remote working models within Irish employers in 2022 could hardly have been imagined just a few short years ago.

Since 2018, a hidden catalyst behind this drastic evolution is the voluntary activism of hundreds of visionary remote employees across the island. Usually operating at the grassroots level in their local villages and towns, these local advocates of remote work have been quietly and consistently promoting its benefits for companies, workers and communities.

Behind this movement sits Grow Remote.

As with most social movements, our humble beginnings took the form of conversations between passionate activists. These early adopters were asking many questions that we now have answers for.

Back in 2018, they found it hard to get answers. So they organised.

Remote work advocates met up together in pubs, went for coffee, ran events. Eventually, they gathered for their first ever Meitheal on 28th September 2018. This conference in Tralee brought together representatives from 150 different communities and companies.

Poster for Grow Remote’s first event in September, 2018

Why was it called a Meitheal?

The Meitheal is an Irish tradition whereby individuals collectively lent each other a hand; for example, farmers would help their neighbours to bale the hay. By supporting each other, neighbours knew they could rely on that same support whenever they needed it.

This is the spirit with which Grow Remote was built. Remote workers pooled their ideas and energy and, within a few months of that first Meitheal, 40 local chapters had been set up across the island via social change platform ChangeX.org.

This step catalysed the movement’s growth even further. In April 2019, Grow Remote held a 3-day conference in Tubbercurry, Co. Sligo. One month later, Grow Remote was incorporated as a non-profit CLG.

At the time, Grow Remote envisaged remote work as the solution to a range of social problems including rural depopulation, the erosion of small communities, and the climate crisis. Since then, the remote working infrastructure has changed unrecognisably due to a global pandemic during which the only work possible (other than front line services) had to be done remotely.

Now that we are emerging from a challenging phase of emergency remote work into a challenging world of “hybrid” models, it is even more clear that remote employment remains the solution to many challenges we face today.

Remote work can provide solutions to a variety of issues, as we’ve already explored elsewhere on our blog; the current cost of living crisis, the risk of international outsourcing, meeting climate action targets, closing the urban-rural income gap, etc.

On 23rd September 2022, local Grow Remote chapters across the island will host cultural events for hundreds of remote workers to connect offline and strengthen community ties in their area. This is all happening in partnership with We Act, a national campaign celebrating the impact of Ireland’s charities and community groups.

“It’s a wonderful milestone to mark four years of this movement,” says Dónal Kearney, Grow Remote’s Community Manager.

“We are a community-led organisation, so Grow Remote owes everything to each and every volunteer member who contributes to our community along the way. The organisational growth since 2018 has carried the movement into a whole new phase, which is having an impact at an international scale – whether it’s speaking to the Oireachtas, presenting on the global stage, influencing debates in the Dáil, or partnering with companies across Ireland.”

Four years on, Grow Remote now works in partnership with dozens of remote employers, exploring the benefits of remote work at the corporate level as well as the community level. We work closely with companies including eBay, HubSpot and Otonomee to discuss and share learnings across the board.

In the process of carrying out our work, Grow Remote has witnessed a veritable boom in the remote job market in Ireland. According to recent research by Hays Ireland, more than a third of Irish employers are hiring for fully remote roles in August 2022. Compared with a scarcity of remote employment back when Grow Remote gathered for that very first Meitheal, these statistics represent an overwhelming transformation in just four years and, in the meantime, Grow Remote’s facilitators have trained hundreds of remote job seekers, employees and managers to aid better navigation of the challenges of remote work.

One of the first Grow Remote events

On Culture Night, local chapter events will include a showcase of the stories of local remote workers in Dublin, a Hot Air Balloon ride in Birr, a musical performance in Enniscorthy, a climate action event in Belfast, and much more.

The impact of Grow Remote chapter events can be seen in various ways.

“We see impact when someone finds remote work after completing the Remote Work Ready course. A casual conversation in Skibbereen can lead to a local person finding work remotely. A talk in Louisburgh might encourage someone to apply (and get!) a remote job. Or a newcomer to Ireland may find belonging in a community of local remote workers through a Grow Remote social event in Malahide. All of this has happened in our Community!

Dónal Kearney, Grow Remote Community Manager

If you are interested in attending Grow Remote event near you on 23rd September, you can find out more at growremote.ie/events