How I set up a Chapter in Longford

As part of a nationwide programme of events in 20 locations across the island, the Grow Remote Longford chapter will host an “International Flavours” event for remote workers, their families and their friends living in the area. You can get involved by registering for free here.

Ahead of the Grow Remote event in Edgeworthstown on 23rd September, we sat down with Chapter Lead – Clare McEnroe – to hear about the story of setting up Grow Remote Longford.

Clare McEnroe, Longford Chapter Lead

When did you first get involved with Grow Remote?

I came across some videos of the Grow Remote event in Tralee, back in September 2018, and that’s where I saw a cousin of mine – Caroline Brady – speaking at it. At the time, she was developing the Cavan Digital Hub. That was my first connection to Grow Remote.

What caught my attention about the Tralee event was the energy that was at time. All the voice pieces – everyone was so excited about it. Remote work was a new thing to me at the time. I had finished up a full-time job and, due to my own circumstances, remote working was something I was interested in exploring.

It just opened a lot of doors.

The next contact I had with Grow Remote was in Tullamore, where John Riordan (Chair of Grow Remote) and Tracy Keogh (co-founder) were presenting at the Local Enterprise Week. After that event, I was sold.

Grow Remote Longford chapter event, May 2022

What was the remote ecosystem like in Longford at the time?

At the time, I was creating a business plan for a co-working space in Edgeworthstown, Co. Longford. I’m part of a really good team here at Co:worx. For most of us, it was our first time volunteering on a community project. We’ve worked really, really well together to create a business plan, to get the funding arranged, to develop Co:worx into what it is here today. We’re all really, really proud of it.

Co:worx was a former Ulster bank building, built circa 1911. It’s a listed building, so it is of huge historical value to the infrastructure of the town here. In 2018, Longford County Council were approached by Edgeworthstown DIstrict Development Committee to purchase the building. Shortly after that, they leased the building to the new committee and that allowed us to access funding to renovate the building.

June 2022

Grow Remote helped us to develop our business plan. At that time, Grow Remote was still very small. I would have accessed (annoyed) Tracy a lot. She was very helpful. She had huge knowledge of other hubs. She gave us a good steer on how we should base our capacity in terms of anchor tenants, hot deskers, dedicated desks, etc.

The most important thing was that she introduced me to a lot of other people that I could go and talk to, and find out their experiences, and learn from their lessons learned. That really was invaluable.

It’s been a fantastic few years. One of the highlights for me in terms of building the remote working community locally is the variety and diversity of people that we have met. When we were putting together a business plan for Co:worx, the help we got – both internally here in Longford and externally, across the country and beyond – was really amazing. And Grow Remote was part of that.

So how did you move forward once you had set up Co:Worx?

Tracy had helped me out so much that I asked her, “What can I do? Can I pay you back in any way?”

She turned around and said: “Just start a chapter!”

At first, it’s not something I thought I could do. But I did it, with the help of Pat Claffey, Lorraine O’Connor and Christine Collins. Together, we started the chapter here in Longford.

The chapter grew and we started getting organic members – there were people that we didn’t know, that we hadn’t asked to join. Since then, we’ve met loads of new people. Killian has joined, Caroline has joined. A few others come and go, but it’s been a fantastic way to meet people.

How did you build the chapter during the pandemic?

Chapter events during Covid were all online. We tried different times and different days to connect virtually. We got some traction, but it was difficult to get large numbers at virtual events. We had an offline event around Christmas 2021 in PVs in Longford town. That was really nice night.

In May 2022, we had another event at Co:worx. This was our first, in-person event where we weren’t socially distanced. Graham from the Grow Remote team came down to it.

At that event, we decided on our chapter goals for this year, which are:

We’ve introduced some other stakeholders into the chapter, such as Community Employment supervisors, Longford Westmeath Education and Training Board. We’ve had a skills session where TUS and DSP were representing.

Our hope is to join everybody together and have something good come from it.

July 2022

Tell us about your most recent event on 22nd July 2022

It was a really, really important day for the chapter because, at previous events, I would have organised, hosted, or tried to speak at them. But on 22nd July, Dennis and Killian hosted the meeting as members of our chapter and they spoke about their experience of completing the Grow Remote Leading Remote Teams course (LRT).

For me, that shows fantastic progress. It means that other people in the chapter want to take the events on, and actually they do them far better than me! It was a fantastic day.

I have done the LRT myself and I found it really, really good and interesting, but how Dennis and Killian spoke about their experience of it has nearly made me want to do LRT again.

Throughout, we’ve had super, super support from Grow Remote, so thank you very much!