Joanne Mangan profiles the women who are shaping the workplace and policy to make jobs accessible across Ireland via remote work.
Remote work has the power to transform Ireland, by unlocking quality jobs from urban areas and making them accessible to everyone, regardless of location.
On International Women’s Day we are highlighting 10 women who are driving the remote working revolution forward, creating an Ireland where location is no longer a barrier to good employment.
Excited to launch our inaugural #WellnessMonth at @axonista with a host of online activities during the month including yoga, meditation, guest speakers, food, and art, kicking off with a company-wide day-off this Friday 💛 #RemoteWork #TeamSpirit https://t.co/InLhAKbZBN
— Claire McHugh (@clairemchugh) February 1, 2022
Claire McHugh is CEO and co-Founder of Axonista, a multi-award winning video commerce technology company that is building the video-first future of shopping. She is recognised as one of Ireland’s leading entrepreneurs, is on the board of Scale Ireland, and is a former Image Businesswoman of the Year.
Claire has been an influential voice in Ireland’s remote working ecosystem for many years. Axonista were early adopters of remote working and were one of the few companies operating a fully remote operation before the pandemic. The company now has a fully remote team of 47 across Europe, with its headquarters in Ireland.
While many companies began implementing remote work as a response to the pandemic, others have been ahead of the curve and have been enabling their staff to work remotely for a much longer period of time. Hazel Mitchell is Senior Director at eBay and has played a central role in the rollout of their eBay@home programme, which was launched back in 2017.
More recently Hazel led the way for eBay to join Grow Remote’s Remote Alliance, alongside other high profile employers Vodafone, ESB and Liberty Insurance. Speaking at the launch of the Remote Alliance, Hazel said “eBay has had a remote working model since 2017 and joining Remote Alliance gives us access to a network of organisations who want to learn from each other, share best practices and provide the best for their remote employees.”
In 2019 Dee Coakley co-founded Boundless, a cloud-based employment platform that makes it easy for small to medium enterprises to hire internationally. Dee is a 3-time COO having spent 10 years with scaling B2B businesses Masabi, Bizimply and Axonista. During her career she experienced first-hand the challenges and complexities of international HR compliance & payroll which led to the creation of Boundless, a company which has experienced significant growth as demand for remote working has soared across the globe.
As CEO of Boundless Dee is playing a key role in creating a world where you can employ anyone, anywhere – allowing companies of all sizes to scale and provide flexible job opportunities for a growing cohort of employees who do not want to be limited by location when it comes to developing their careers.
Hélène is VP of Delivery & Engineering at NearForm, one of Ireland’s largest home-grown remote companies, with 260 employees based in 29 locations around the world. As a company with software engineering at its heart, NearForm works with public and private enterprises to design and deliver smart software solutions while building clients’ digital capability.
As a results-driven business leader with a 25 year track record of delivery and over-achievement in the telecoms, IT and high-tech industries, Hélène’s role is global in scope, ensuring the delivery of complex digital solutions to NearForm’s clients.
When asked about NearForm’s philosophy about remote work, Hélène says: “Fundamentally, at NearForm, we don’t believe that people need to move to “tech hubs” to have a brilliant career. Instead, we bring a brilliant career to anywhere we find passionate and talented people. This allows us to tap into a wider talent pool, build connections with bright minds across the globe, and work with people from different backgrounds and cultures who not only bring a wealth of knowledge with them, but also challenge our opinions and ideas, helping us grow both professionally and on a personal level.”
Heather Humphreys, TD
As Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys recognises the potential for remote work to transform rural Ireland. On the launch of the government’s National Remote Work Strategy in 2021, Minister Humphreys said that remote work “can breathe new life into our rural towns and villages because people who have been forced to commute to large urban centres every day are now working locally”.
Minister Humpreys is currently overseeing the launch of a national network of remote co-working spaces across the country and her department recently launched a new mobile app ‘Connected Hubs’ with over 200 hubs already connected via the network and more to be added. Further planning initiatives to support remote working in Ireland include a national awareness campaign to promote the benefits of remote working hubs, and a €5m Connected Hubs Fund to enhance remote working facilities.
Senator Emer Currie
Senator Currie is the Seanad Spokesperson for employment affairs, work-lIfe balance and Northern affairs. A passionate and persistent advocate for remote work, Senator Currie has been a leader in the remote working debate, particularly around the potential for remote work to drive economic recovery. Most recently she spoke at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Right to Request Remote Work about the importance of giving a platform to companies who are running successful remote companies, so that we can take a solutions-based approach to remote work.
This week Senator Currie will be a guest speaker at Grow Remote’s Dublin Chapter Relaunch on Thursday March 10th, alongside journalist Róisín Ingle, Grow Remote Co-Founder Tracy Keogh and speakers from remote employers ebay, Twitter and Flipdish.
Nicole is founder and CEO of global employment platform Globalization Partners and was named ‘one of the 100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs of 2021’ by Goldman Sachs. Globalization Partners recently announced their plans to expand their operations in Ireland, doubling their headcount by creating 160 new jobs, a figure that could reach ‘way past 400’ according to Nicole.
Nicole believes in the power of remote work to empower a better society. On her blog she writes: “What if who you are and what you have to offer mattered more than where you are? If you put limits on location, you’re putting limits on the talent you invite to your team.Companies that are remote-first know this, and that’s why they set out to hire the best in the world, versus the best in a commutable distance from their office.”
Employflex was founded in 2016 as Employment, with the aim of matching candidates looking for flexibility with flexible and remote roles. Karen O’Reilly is the founder of Employflex and is a leading voice in the debate around flexible, remote and hybrid working. Karen is a former accountant who worked around the world and then returned to Ireland in 2013 looking for a flexible job. When she realised this was not easy to find, she established Employmum, a recruitment agency originally for mums but since then expanded to a wider and more diverse audience due to the high demand for flexible roles.
Rowena is the founder of RoRemote, and provides training, education and consultancy services on remote working best practices, covering topics such as wellbeing, social connections, communications and emotional intelligence in remote working environments. She was named one of the top 25 remote innovators by Remote.com and more recently was named one of Linkedin’s News Top 10 Global Voices in Remote Work 2022.
Rowena also publishes a weekly ‘Remote Work Wellbeing Digest’ and is a regular contributor to Grow Remote’s Leading Remote Teams training programme around the topic of employee wellbeing in a remote world.
Would you like to work remotely but your organisation is not yet on board & wants you “back in the office”? Need support to have this chat with your employer? It’s about flexibility, choice & happier staff. Let me know. From little acorns @GrowRemoteIrl #TogetherForRemote pic.twitter.com/sSsS9arTIb
— Róisín Ingle (@roisiningle) June 22, 2021
Róisín is a writer, a journalist and columnist with the Irish Times and the host of the Women’s Podcast. She has been writing about her love for working from home and advocating for remote work since the start of the pandemic, including this piece titled ‘The thought of ‘back to the office’ brings me out in hives’.
Róisín will be facilitating the upcoming Grow Remote Dublin Chapter relaunch with a panel of remote working influencers including Senator Emer Currie, Grow Remote co-founder Tracy Keogh and guest speakers from eBay, Flipdish and Twitter.
While not in our official Top 10, no list of remote working influencers in Ireland would be complete without Grow Remote’s co-founder Tracy Keogh, who has been championing remote work as a driver of social change since long before the pandemic. In 2018 Tracy and a group of like-minded individuals got together in a WhatApp group which went on to become Grow Remote, a social enterprise with over 120 local chapters, and 3 fully funded training programmes for companies and individuals. Another key member of the Grow Remote team who deserves an honourable mention is Renate Kohlmann, who has been at the forefront of remote working in Ireland throughout her 25-year career and who is responsible for Grow Remote’s Leading Remote Teams training programme.