Grow Remote: Tubbercurry conference, 16th April 2019

Grow Remote Tubbercurry Rebecca Spelman

Grow Remote began in 2018 as a WhatsApp group of people who wanted to make remote working more accessible. This hard-working group of entrepreneurs, community members, and remote workers held their first conference that September, in Tralee. Six months later, the Grow Remote community has grown and gathered in Tubbercurry, Co. Sligo to discuss developments in the world of remote work.

Gathering in Tubbercurry

Tubbercurry is an average-sized town in south Sligo; a nice place, but not somewhere everyone will have visited. By the end of the conference, #tubbercurry was trending on Twitter, along with #GrowRemote. About 200 people gathered in St. Brigid’s Hall to discuss remote work and the possibilities it could provide to towns just like Tubbercurry.

Tubbercurry was the perfect place for a conference about remote work. Despite it being a pretty rural town in the west of Ireland, it was more than able to hold this large conference. Sometimes people think that things like large events and promising careers aren’t popular in rural areas- Grow Remote knows for a fact that this isn’t the case.

Valuable insights

Sometimes conferences can become a one-man show for the speaker onstage; Grow Remote was nothing like that. Many of the presentations were interactive, with MC Noel Toolan discussing issues with the speakers from beside the audience. There were panels interspersed between talks, allowing audience questions to be facilitated and feedback to be given in real time.

Beside the stage, question-and-answer app Slido was being shown on screens to show what the audience wanted to discuss. Audience members offered questions for panels, and a poll was conducted throughout the day to figure out what topics needed to be discussed. At the end of the day, the audience separated into groups for round-table discussions on the topics they’d voted on.

This collaborative style perfectly reflects the way Grow Remote works. Grow Remote isn’t about a central authority, it’s about community groups being able to do what’s best for themselves while also being able to connect and share resources with their neighbours. The Tubbercurry conference gave the audience access to great advice from industry experts while still allowing their own voices to be a significant part of the remote work conversation.

The three Ts of remote working

Many of the conference’s speakers touched on similar topics when it came to what makes remote working possible. Ryan Mesches from Teamwork summed it up with “the three Ts”: transparency, trust, and time.

Transparency is all about clear communication. If you’re a remote employee, you need to have a clear idea of what’s expected of you. If you’re on a team where other members meet in the office, you need to be kept in the loop.

Trust is… well, trust. A lot of traditional managers struggle to trust remote workers because they can’t constantly check what their employee is doing. Remote workers need to be trusted that they’re doing what they’re supposed to. A new kind of work requires a new kind of management.

Time is an interesting factor in remote work. Remote teams are often spread across multiple time zones, and there was a lot of discussion about how teams like that can be managed effectively. When you’re a remote worker, you also need to treat time differently. The line between work time and personal time can become blurred very easily, so blocking your time is incredibly important.

My favourite quotes of the day

According to the Census, there has been an 11% increase in home-based working between 2011 and 2016.

Tomás Ó Síocháin, CEO, Western Development Commission

One job move might be the difference in keeping the post office open… in keeping an extra teacher in the local school… in the local team making it to the championships.

John Riordan, Director of Support, Shopify

91% of remote workers believe they are more productive than they would be in an office.

Francesc Artigas, Solutions Engineering Lead, Asana

We measure output, not hours.

Angela Piper, Chief People Officer, Scraping Hub

Share a personality, not a pitch.

Laurel Farrer, Distributed Operations Consultant

Grow Remote’s second conference was even bigger than the first. The movement now has chapters across Ireland, as well as in Portugal, Spain, and the U.S. It didn’t escape everyone’s notice that a live conference about remote work is ironic, but in a world of video calls and email relationships, those face-to-face interactions just showed how much the people of Grow Remote care.

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