Blog Article 01 Oct 2018
John Riordan, director of support for Shopify
John Riordan, director of support for Shopify
Ireland can become a haven for remote networking, attracting high-value labour to all parts of the country while easing demand on high-cost housing and rents in major cities. That was the call from the inaugural Grow Remote conference for remote and smart working, which was held in Tralee last week.
“We can set the world standard for remote if we want to… Let’s aim to be the number one country in world at attracting remote-working smart thinkers,” said John Riordan, director of support for Shopify.
Encouraging remote working could strengthen Ireland’s sales pitch for foreign direct investment at a time when many countries are competing aggressively for it. “If we figure out a way to approach this as a service, a science and a discipline, that we are known as the remote working country, it’s another aspect of our global value proposition that we could sell,” said Denis Collins, CEO of Smarter Dynamix and chair of IDA Ireland’s regional development committee.
Adam Coleman, CEO and owner of human resources software HRLocker,
spoke about the potential for remote work to revive rural areas. “If you want to really rejuvenate environments, you have to bring knowledge jobs because when knowledge jobs arrive, money arrives,” he said. His company has customers in over 40 different countries, and Coleman himself works from Lahinch on the western edge of county Clare.
Shopify’s John Riordan argued that encouraging remote working is a win for all sides. For companies already facing tough competition for skilled workers, they can now recruit from a much broader talent pool than if they were based in just one area.
For employees, there’s a huge quality of life benefit: by working from home or from a nearby coworking space, they spare themselves gruelling, unproductive commutes. For Ireland as a society, it reduces pressure on house prices and rent rates in major cities, while allowing smaller communities to thrive with the arrival of skilled workers.
The remote working trend is catching on globally. The software startup InVision has no office space, and all of its employees have worked remotely since day one in 2011. It now has 700 people in the company.
In Ireland, remote working is growing in popularity but from a relatively small base. Grow Remote organisers estimate that there are around 216,000 people working remotely in Ireland. Some of the international companies with operations here have already started implementing these policies. Shopify now has employees working in all 26 counties in the Republic of Ireland, and has grown rapidly by outpacing the targets it set for the Irish operation. The Canadian e-commerce company started with basic frontline business and customer support positions but has since expanded its workforce by adding many more roles. In September, Wayfair announced it was launching a “virtual workforce” of more than 200 new jobs around Ireland, aiming to tap into an even broader talent pool and provide employment opportunities to a wide range of qualified candidates.
With the next Grow Remote conference scheduled for March 2019, it will be interesting to chart the progress in the meantime.


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