Opening the mind to remote working

Is remote working the future of working? It’s estimated that $10.4 trillion will be added to the global economy by 2030 as a direct result of remote working.  

While the idea of ‘working from home’ has existed for hundreds of years, remote working is still a relatively new concept in the business world, but is something more companies are beginning to come around too.

It wasn’t until the Industrial Revolution that many of the work homes began to disappear, and the lines began to be clearly drawn between what was for work and what was for home.

As companies grew to rely on technology and machinery, the home was no-longer a place to conduct work. It wasn’t until the 1970s that terms related to remote work started making a resurgence and slowly but surely, it is becoming part of everyday work life once again – but there’s still a long way to go.

Of the 2.2 million people currently employed in Ireland, over 200,000 of these workers travel more than one hour to get to work, which begs the question: Why can’t they work either at home or closer to home?

It is believed that an estimated $10.4 trillion will be added to the global economy by 2030 as a direct result of remote working. This figure shows just how powerful remote working will be, but still only 16% of companies worldwide offer remote working. Companies that currently offer remote working options saw a boost in employee productivity by 83%.   

Although any future is uncertain, remote work looks to be sticking around. We’ve seen enormous growth in Ireland over the last decade, and Renata Kohlmann, manager of the Grow Remote chapter in Ballinasloe, believes Ireland’s approach to remote working is changing for the better, but there’s still a lot of work to be done. “If you look at Ireland and focused on a talent heat map, you’ll probably find most of the talent is already in the main cities such as Dublin and Cork, but that’s largely down to the fact these people had to leave their hometowns to find work.”

Renata’s experience working remotely dates back as far as 2004 when she held a European role in Dell from her home in east Galway. “My work is all about bringing employees and companies together to have the conversations about creating a positive environment that supports remote working. I managed a European team from east Galway and it came about due to the necessity of where I was living. At that time, the manager I had was very progressive and saw it as an opportunity to trial it and it worked.

“For me it started out almost like a lifestyle choice because I wanted to move from Dublin to rural Ireland and I wanted to see if I could bring my job with me. Because it was a European role, it meant I still had to travel a lot but it was great that I could choose where I based myself.”

In her most recent role as site director at Wayfair, Renata was responsible for defining the strategy around the whole remote working policy for Ireland and Europe. “In June 2018, we kicked off our first team with 15 people working remotely, and come September we had fully launched it and now there’s over 250 people working remotely in Ireland for Wayfair.”

While the attitude towards remote working continues to change, there is still a lot of apprehension from business owners to move towards these flexible work solutions. “I think companies are still concerned about the whole ‘if I can’t see them, then I don’t know what they are doing’. You have to have a holistic approach and focus from the ground up to make it work.”

Renata spoke to ThinkBusiness at the Future Jobs Ireland event last Friday at the Cavan Digital Hub, and she believes these hubs are crucial to the success of remote working in Ireland. “We definitely need more hubs like this across the country. They are crucial for when we go and talk to companies about trialling remote working. They need to see there are places where people can go to work, because not everyone has broadband at home. Working remotely doesn’t mean you are sitting at home half working – you have to be fully engaged with your work. The other thing to be aware of is the isolation piece so remote working isn’t from everyone.  But having hubs like the Cavan Digital Hub means you get to meet new interesting people every day and you can bounce ideas off others.”

If you are looking for more information on Grow Remote or want to get involved in the movement across Ireland, you can click here.

Written by Stephen Larkin (

Published on 25 July, 2019