Things we learned but didn’t expect to at Grow Remote 2018

Brian McDowell Uncategorized

We took a spin down to beautiful County Kerry for the inaugural Grow Remote Conference in Tralee last week.

What was it? A jobs fair? A networking event? There was some networking but it wasn’t a job fair.

They’ve created a monster

via GIPHY

But it is most definitely a ‘movement‘ now! One that you can expect to gather a lot of momentum and snowball from here on in. (And it all came from a WhatsApp group that turned into a working party!)

What Grow Remote was, was an excellent forum of speakers (including a guy from Microsoft in Seattle, who, of course, attend remotely via a conference call … and, yes, he was wearing pants when asked) from the leading remote employers, co-working spaces and remote workers themselves giving insight into the ‘remote’ market and their lessons learned.

In fact John Riordan from Shopify said it could be like ‘the next web summit … let’s get t-shirts to claim you were at the first one!’

We certainly learned more than we thought. Everyone knows the main benefits cited for employers and workers. (Reduced premises overheads, flexibility and work/life balance, time zone support, access to wider talent pool, lessened environmental impact, lower stress etc. etc.)

But we picked up a few more things worth mentioning …

1. There are different types of remote worker. Who knew? Thought it was just ‘shirk from homers’?

You’ve got ‘Hybrid‘ remote workers, ‘flex workers‘, ‘smartworkers‘ (because Abodoo think ‘remote’ sounds sad and isolating – a bit like Global Warming sounds nice?) and ‘reverse remote‘ workers.

Hybrid and flex are probably self explanatory in terms of how their hours and location are split.

Reversers aren’t bailing town – they’re heading to town. But work for employers that are not.

For coastal beach bums like us that sounds crazy, but true.

Image via 30 Lines

2. Remote working isn’t just for mums getting back to work or contractors. It’s great for the misfits. Well, maybe that’s a bit strong. But it could suit the socially anxious for example.

Or those that cope with certain burdens that sometimes make being in an office an unnecessary extra challenge. But that are excellent employees and productive people.

Many just can’t – or won’t, because their skillsets allow them to choose – work in a regular office for their emotional or physical wellbeing. It can also be for the ‘broken’.

Those that find themselves needing to rebuild their lives. The burned out. That’ve had to up sticks and rebuild elsewhere.

But this bunch of crazies are obviously talented. Because tonnes of companies are looking to snap them up because of their abilities and productivity.

Oh. And perfectly sane, ‘normal’ people can remote work too.

3. Remote workers are [mostly] not millennials. Along with the point above – and according to data presented in Tralee – it seems the most successful and in demand remote workers are middle aged and experienced.

Millennials are more likely to be ‘reversers‘. (See us keeping up with the lingo there.)

Time-served employees can be trusted. Not that millennials can’t.

But those that have been around the block – and have a track record built over a solid career span – are more likely to judge how the vital mutual elements of trust for remote teams will or won’t work for them.

4. Rural and coastal Ireland will be a hotspot for remote employers. Yep. Grow Remote obviously will champion this.

But when you look at the facts, it’s an english-language-speaking nation, that’s in the EU, easily accessible, has a great lifestyle to offer (give or take a bit of rain eh) without the housing issues  and associated extra urban costs that, say, Dublin presents.

Ireland does tourism marketing really well. The Wild Atlantic Way has been a huge success.

So you can expect remote to piggyback on the tails of what brings tourists to Ireland because those are great lifestyle facets too for digital nomads that might just stay …

Ireland’s got a proven track record for knowledge workers. Apparently the Netherlands is the leading European county for providing remote jobs though, followed by the UK.

Come on Ireland, we can beat them …

5. There are remote job boards galore – and it’s not slowing down: There’s a burgeoning amount of remote working resources for job seekers.

Don’t confuse these all with gig economy sites. Smart job boards are vetting and matching candidates, carrying out internet speed tests and even competency exercises on behalf of employers.

Some are focused on the back-to-work moms. Some on specialist tech skills. Some allround. But it’s happening.

This is where a lot of talent is and will be listed and looking so they can live and work how they want. So, be there I suppose.

6. Wow. There are loads of hubs.  Co-working spaces are on the rise more than we thought. This means employers are prepared to fund spaces and that ‘working from home’ isn’t for everyone.

But neither is living in a city. Employees just don’t necessarily want, or need, to live where employers are based.

(Here’s a list of Hubs and Co-Working Spaces in Ireland)

Local hubs for remote workers can really contribute to the community – socially, not just economically – and provide a vital space for remote workers to avoid isolation and get great stuff done. Without necessarily wearing their pyjamas.

7. Remote working can help bring the diaspora back. Many generations of Irish people have had few options but to emigrate where the work is.

Now there’s a chance with a movement like Grow Remote to attract expats back to the rural and coastal communities that they love and miss – without fear of job security or expensive city living, fierce competition for good schools etc.

8. People are struggling to leave cities. Say what? Yes. Really. We thought all you had to do was get on a bus or train with a suitcase.

But it seems there are workers based in the city that are struggling to get out. And Grow Remote are helping with taster sessions to help them find a place that feels like home.

9. There’s a call for tax breaks for remote workers. Not sure about this. When you’re already saving on commuting costs and mostly a lower cost of living. Or if you’re a contractor you might be availing of self-employed tax advantages already. But to encourage people to take the leap, then, yes, maybe its worth it to get people off the road and out of the doctors surgeries suffering from stress-related conditions.

Well done – and thanks – to the Grow Remote collective and their sponsors. We urge as many people as possible to get involved and help this side of the employment market flourish.

At the end of the day, happier people are more productive!

Need some help setting up or managing remote or brick and mortar teams? We’d be happy to hear about your challenges.

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Things we learned but didn’t expect to at Grow Remote 2018 was last modified: October 10th, 2018 by Brian McDowell

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