On 28th September, 150 people gathered in the conference room of The Rose Hotel in Tralee, eager to see what the day would bring. Freelancers, business owners, and community leaders had travelled from across Ireland to take part in Ireland’s first remote working conference, Grow Remote.
Grow Remote was organised by a WhatsApp group of plucky people who love remote working, led by Tracy Keogh. We felt that Ireland was the perfect place for remote working, the only thing missing was the jobs! After weeks of intense planning and discussion, Ireland’s first remote working conference came together.
The conference ran from 10AM to 4PM, with inspirational remote worker Niall Doherty providing charm and levity as the MC. The passion we all had for remote working mixed with the buzz of the crowd and the prospect of something new to create an electric energy. The speakers and panels spoke about their companies, their personal experiences, and the effect remote working has on their communities. Five key points became clear throughout the day:
Ireland currently has 216,000 remote workers spread across the country, with a flexible schedule, a healthier work-life balance, and avoiding a traffic-filled commute were all mentioned as popular reasons. Ireland has thousands of towns and rural areas that offer a great lifestyle, but find it tough to compete with the number of jobs offered in Dublin. Remote working allows people to live wherever they want, spreading our population across the country. It’s time to revitalise our rural areas and say goodbye to city traffic!
Vanessa Tierney of Abodoo used the phrase “home, hub, hybrid” to outline three styles of remote working. Remote working is sometimes seen as synonymous with working from home, but the truth is remote working options are constantly growing and becoming more flexible. Grow Remote is encouraging remote workers, companies, and community groups to bring people together and create opportunities through collaboration. At the conference, people made connections with plans to work together on projects and even plan their own Grow Remote events back in their hometowns.
Remote working isn’t just for tech roles, with roles such as HR, finance, and marketing now becoming popular remote options. Lots of speakers stressed the importance of soft skills, particularly the ability to work remotely. According to John Riordan of Shopify, that’s the one skill you can’t teach. Freelance designer Filippos Protogeridis presented a great list of ten things he wished he’d known before he started remote work. So many of those points focused on soft skills like sticking to a schedule and long-term planning.
Teamwork.com and 10Up were just two examples at Grow Remote that are actively re-thinking communication within their companies. What’s the best way to build team rapport when the team is stretched across the globe? How are decisions made? How do fully remote companies deal with issues like time zones and language barriers? There was also great discussion of remote workers’ mental health from speakers such as John Riordan and Shauna Moran. Part of managing a remote team is making sure your team members are satisfied, and it was great to see that priority mentioned again and again.
A new way of doing things
Remote workers and companies are people who think outside the box, who decide they want to do things differently and go out and do them. Everyone at the conference was given three cards to fill out:
- What did you get today?
- What do you need from here?
- What action are you going to take?
Some people filled these cards out for themselves, others passed them on to the Grow Remote team to help us make the next conference even better. We were even able to fund some of the ideas we got through the recently-launched Kennedy Bursary.
The growth of remote working has come from people wanting to work and live outside of the status quo. Grow Remote came from a desire to build remote working in Ireland and create better opportunities for people and communities. The answers we got on our cards came from questions, hopes, and ideas about what our community can be. What happens next at Grow Remote will come from the amazing community our events are building.
Freelance writer based in Galway. Experience with voice-over work and digital marketing. Director of Calamity Theatre, Galway-based theatre company.