John is a member of our @DigitalDunLaoghaire steering group – https://www.digitaldunlaoghaire.ie/about-activating-our-town-through-digital
Much has happened over the last few weeks. The economy has come closer to reopening. Someone has finally found the ‘spring weather’ button and switched it on. And Ireland has now had a closer look at what work will look like over the next few years.
A survey conducted by NUIG found that 83% of people working at home want to continue to do so. The benefits of remote work included no traffic, no commute, cost savings, and flexible working days. Even people who worked from home for the first time during the pandemic largely want to stay at home.
To learn more about remote work, @DigitalDunLaoghaire sat down with John Evoy, General Manager at Grow Remote, a not for profit community of people committed to elevating the status of remote work and using it as a tool for community development. Grow Remote now sits on the @DigitalDunLaoghaire steering group and is keen to start a Dun Laoghaire chapter (more details below).
We chatted about what remote work is, what it could be, and what Irish businesses need to nurture a location agnostic workforce.
Remote Work is as Much About Culture as Technology
With the recent announcement of the investment in coworking hubs, many entrepreneurs may wonder about the best ways to get involved. Can more teams become remote teams? Can your team become a remote team?
The answer, Evoy said, is yes. However, it’s not enough to commit to remote working. You need remote leadership, and this can often require new skills.
“The biggest thing [about remote work] is the approach. The skillset of the managers has to change dramatically because you’re not seeing people everyday,” Evoy said. “It’s about measuring the outputs and not the inputs.”
“We always say you need to ‘trust not track’ and allow people to get on with [their jobs]. If the work is getting done, then from a manager’s perspective, you don’t need to worry about how long they’re at their desk. Once you have that piece, the technology to facilitate remote work can follow.”
Remote work culture can be an organisation’s biggest challenge. Though, a certain amount of the transformation can be completed through reskilling managers to lead remote teams. Even still, it’s important for businesses to understand that the transition from office culture to distributed culture is complex, and there are issues of equality and fairness involved, particularly for organisations who maintain an office space.
For example, traditional office perks can be a real sticking point. As Evoy noted, few businesses will provide stipends for remote workers’ lunches. However, it can become a sticking point if office-based employees are getting lunch for free from the canteen.
“It takes time to work out,” Evoy said. “But we always say, if a company saves money because of remote work, they should reinvest it in the people in another way.”
Why Remote Work Builds Communities
Much of the dialogue around remote work thus far focuses on enterprises. However, the reaches of the remote work movement go far beyond office productivity, cost cutting, and attracting talent from further afield.
For Grow Remote, there’s an emphasis on rural growth and regeneration.
“We believe remote working can be key to regional towns, villages, and communities. Statistics would say that for every three remote jobs attracted in the town, another two are sustained locally,” Evoy said.
In other words, when people live and work locally, they spend money locally. More gainfully employed people in town translates into more cafes, shops, and services and rural regeneration. Rural regeneration creates even more jobs.
How does Grow Remote see this happening?
“People are taking the opportunity to follow their dreams now that their job no longer determines where they have to live. They often go back to a place where they have a connection and start working there. Then, when a few people with good jobs start spending in a small town or village, then a few things open and then a few more things open.”
Here in Dun Laoghaire, @DigitalDunLaoghaire have focused on doing just that. Bringing in businesses through the Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown ecosystem, by fostering their development, and creating a town that attracts workers. The hope is to demonstrate the possibilities of digital skills.
Dún Laoghaire Town and Remote Work – What does John think of our project so far?
“I think it’s an ideal location; it’s a beautiful location. Dun Laoghaire could be a leading light and an example of how more urban areas attract and retain remote workers,” Evoy said.
@DigitalDunLaoghaire agrees and believes that the town has the opportunity to become the Palo Alto of Ireland. That’s why Grow Remote are keen to establish a Dun Laoghaire chapter.
Would you like to be part of the Dun Laoghaire – Grow Remote Community? Learn more about forming, funding, and running a Grow Remote community over at ChangeX.