Grow Remote Dundalk: “If you build it, they will come.”

Ciara Breen is the Chapter Lead of Grow Remote Dundalk. She works as Creative Spark Downtown Co-working hub Manager, Dundalk. She spoke to Grow Remote about the process of launching a brand new chapter during a storm.

I have never been a fan of the Dundalk-Dublin commute.

I lasted one week in an intern role before vowing I would never do it again. As a marketing graduate, finding work in the local area was difficult but I was lucky to take up a job in the local newspaper. I worked at The Dundalk Democrat for five years. At that point, I wanted to progress my career and was looking around the local landscape.

In the end, I literally emigrated to avoid the Dublin commute, relocating only across the water to Edinburgh, where I enjoyed a scenic 15-minute walk into work in the mornings.

Pandemic working from home for me was really difficult. I felt isolated and began to lose confidence and belief in my own ability. This had a real impact on me and inspired me to help others in my position: remote workers!

When I initially joined Creative Spark and became aware of the desk space that we would be filling in our new Downtown hub in central Dundalk, I started profiling the type of members we may expect in order to engage early with these people in the local community. It was when I spoke about remote workers to our Executive Director, Sarah Daly, she directed me to Grow Remote.

Based on my own experiences of remote work, there are two things I would like to achieve through the Grow Remote Dundalk chapter.

Firstly, I want to educate the local community around the fact that there is a 3rd option; it’s not just Dublin or Emigrate! There are amazing jobs with career progression available remotely that allows you to stay local. For example, there are currently over 500 remote positions on the Grow Remote Jobs Board.

Secondly, I want to support remote workers by giving them a social outlet that can help fill the interpersonal gap created by the lack of a physical workspace locally.

When I was planning the chapter launch event, I procrastinated a little too much in the beginning, if I’m honest! The Chapter should (and will) be led by members so trying to be everything for everyone until we found “our people” had me frazzled.

Eventually, I put a press release out in the 3 local papers, set up an event on Facebook, posted on social media and trusted in the process that those interested would find us. I was also lucky to be able to use the facilities at our Creative Spark enterprise centre and offer free teas, coffees and biscuits as a lure on a €0 budget.

As for the launch event, it was a cold and stormy night… with lightning bolts of ideas! Dónal from Grow Remote facilitated an amazing session with our small but eager bunch. We discussed what the members would like from the chapter and how we can support the local community and get the most out of our town centre.  

At our midway break, it was great to see people sharing stories with each other. One of the members even bid a goodbye to her “new colleagues”.

There was definitely an immediate sense of community.

We will continue to grow the online facebook community between now and Christmas, sharing the message around remote working and promoting the remote job opportunities available.

One of the members who attended the launch, plus another who couldn’t make it due to the weather (Storm Barra!) have both reached out subsequently to ask / offer to play more active roles as we grow the community.

We are meeting again next week to set up an events calendar which will begin in January and discuss some ideas around further promotion.

Remember – “If you build it, they will come.

Ciara Breen, Chapter Lead of Grow Remote Dundalk