3 Lessons From Ireland’s Thriving Remote Work Ecosystem

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By Deborah Soye, VP of Consumer & Digital Technology for IDA Ireland

When the pandemic began, many organizations in Ireland were ready for full remote-work operations. That’s because they had already implemented remote-work policies years earlier—to great success.

It’s becoming clear that today’s dynamic companies will need to improve their remote operating capacity. They will have to lean into best practices for achieving connectivity, provide upward-mobility opportunities for their employees, and use the best technology to remain competitive in the global fight for talent.

For leaders now looking to build thriving remote-first teams, Irish organizations that had already incorporated their remote-work plans before the pandemic offer three important lessons they’ve learned over the years:

1. Work Remotely—But Not Too Remotely

Forty-one percent of remote workers say they don’t feel connected to colleagues when working remotely, and 26% report feeling isolated, a recent Gartner HR survey found.

Hazel Mitchell, Senior Director at e-commerce giant eBay, is keenly aware of this disconnection and believes that leadership and communications tactics can help bridge this gap—but that structural planning also provides a long-term solution to employee engagement.

Regional remote work in Ireland gives companies an opportunity to pursue and expand their remote-work policies while creating cohesive teams here. This strategy is one eBay has already implemented as part of its remote-working initiatives.

The California-based company has had offices in Dublin for nearly two decades, giving it a regional hub for its remote workforce in the country. And in 2017, in Ireland, it launched its first [email protected] initiative allowing employees to work remotely at home.

Mitchell notes, “The talent in Ireland, for us, has been absolutely central to eBay’s success.” As the company expands its [email protected] remote-work offering, eBay can tap into Ireland’s expansive talent pool while maintaining touchpoints and listening posts to identify problems and provide solutions.

Tracy Keogh, co-founder of Grow Remote, has also witnessed this policy’s success firsthand. “We have Shopify, which has 400 people fully remote in Ireland, so you’re not a first mover,” Keogh says. “This reduces the risk of a remote workforce. We also have Wayfair, Gitlab, and others that hire for remote teams here.”

In 2017, well before the pandemic hit, Ireland started preparing communities and companies for remote working by initiating training and providing tools that would help employees feel connected. “With IDA Ireland, we trained US and global companies in the skill of managing remote teams,” Keogh says. “Having skills on both sides is why we have a highly successful remote working ecosystem.”

2. Equip Employees for Upward Mobility

Remote teams need to account for upward mobility and advancement opportunities in a remote environment. Employees will seek a new job if their existing opportunity is not challenging, rewarding, and building toward something more significant. Mitchell explains, “You need to be able to think not only for this specific role, but for what happens next.”

Even before the pandemic, Ireland was preparing to empower remote workers with upward mobility. Grow Remote implemented remote-worker training programs and commenced developing an ecosystem to prepare workers for success now and in the years ahead.

“Because we collectively started in 2017,” Keogh says, “I don’t think that there is another country with the network of courses and supports that we have. We developed free courses for both sides, whether that be companies or people getting trained in the skill of remote working.”

Mitchell commented that “the best way eBay approaches this is to keep a growth mindset and continuously explore how to improve and leverage the very best practices.”

3. Tap into Existing Ecosystems

Some environments are better prepared for the transition to remote work than others. Prioritizing existing ecosystems with built-in technological infrastructure is a good place to start. Koegh says that having technical infrastructure in place means you can tap into a diverse range of talent that would not be available otherwise.

Ireland’s experienced remote-work environment supports Silicon Valley companies, providing access to remote-ready talent in a cultural environment where they can thrive—as eBay experienced firsthand.

“The ecosystem in Ireland is good not only if you want to enter the market and access talent, but it’s also good for sustaining the workforce that you have when you do hire remotely, given the strong sense of community. We have seen remote workers leverage their local remote working community to connect, share their own best practices, and support each other to success,” explains Mitchell.

Find out more about investing in Ireland and how the team in the IDA Ireland can help your business today.

Deborah Soye is VP of Consumer & Digital Technology for IDA Ireland on the U.S. West Coast. Located in Silicon Valley, she works with and supports multinational companies both in the consumer and digital tech industry and in the business services industry to identify opportunities where Ireland can add value to their international growth and to drive further investment into Ireland.

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