Tubbercurry, the power of community
On April 16th 2019, I embarked on a road trip to the town of Tubbercurry in South Sligo. What I thought was going to be a long way to Tubbercurry was in fact a smooth 3-hour drive across Ireland.
What drove me to the northwestern part of the island was Grow Remote’s second remote working conference. I had missed the first one in Tralee and was determined to seize this second opportunity.
Grow Remote is a volunteer-led movement with a mission to connect and support remote workers (more specifically people who are permanently employed and work remotely full time), using remote work as a tool for community development in Ireland and beyond.
I joined the movement at the end of 2018 and started the Ashford Wicklow chapter. I was particularly drawn by the community building aspect of Grow Remote as I had recently relocated to County Wicklow and was getting to know my new local community. I will highlight at this point that I am not a remote worker as such, I am self-employed and not employed remotely by a company, but I am a strong advocate of growing remote and being more flexible, of working smarter and making an impact locally.
Tubbercurry was no random choice to host the remote working conference. The town was named Ireland's first smart community, as part of a nationwide initiative launched by the Department of Rural and Community Development at the start of 2019.
I drove to Tubbercurry not knowing what to expect. I knew what to expect from the conference of course, the carefully crafted schedule and diverse lineup of speakers were the main reason for my journey, but I hadn’t researched Tubbercurry.
I arrived just after 9am. I was greeted by two young girls who were in charge of registrations. I am not used to being greeted by little humans, the last conference I attended a few days earlier was Dublin Tech Summit… And so I started my day with a big smile on my face. There was something very special about being welcomed in such a lovely way. You weren’t just attending a conference, you were welcomed into a community.
The conference was taking place in St Bridget’s Hall. You may be thinking community hall, I was, but as it turned out it was a theatre, with a welcoming foyer and cosy breakout area.
When I started writing this post, I read on the town’s website that “There is a strong emphasis on Culture in the area”. “The Drama Festivals held twice a year, in one of the Towns famous landmark’s St, Bridget’s Hall“. And now I understand why I felt like I was enjoying a play that day, with its various acts and intervals…
I have been to a lot of conferences, but rarely have I felt it so natural to engage in conversation with attendees. As Geraldine, who I met at the morning break, put it “there’s a great buzz about the place”. And there was. I blame the candy table, chockablock with candy dispensers and a lollipop wheel. Actually it was more of a waterwheel, picture a constant flow of lollipops.
Giddy as children we were… And yes, we were high on sugar but also energised by fresh content, passionate speakers and a sense of belonging.
The day flew between presentations and discussion panels, ending with breakout sessions on hot topics that emerged throughout the day on Slido. The audience picked their topic and followed the session leads to various spots in town, from the estate agent’s office to a closed store or the local pub, to brainstorm and come up with recommendations.
I won't do the event justice by summarising every presentation and discussion. The event was live streamed by Look West and two recordings are available: morning session /afternoon session. I invite you to get a taste for remote work by watching some, or all of the conference.
I will end with a couple of points that resonated with me, as a people person, a linguist, a process optimisation and language quality manager, and someone rebuilding herself after a career spent in the corporate world.
One of the first things I did when I started my solo adventure was to explore coworking spaces in town. I was also, unconsciously back then, looking for my new tribe. And so I thoroughly enjoyed Laurel’s presentation and highly recommend watching her piece on “Building your virtual tribe”.
“We need to intentionally recreate the network we miss from being in an office.”
Laurel Farrer, CEO, Distributed Consulting
As a trained linguist with years of experience in software Localisation, I know that the language we use is critical and terminology needs to be right from the start. Tammy’s “Remote lingua franca: the language of distributed work” was a powerful presentation and it’s no surprise that she is behind a series of training courses. Check out Workplaceless for more information.
“If we’re all speaking the same language, it’s easier to explain the benefits of remote work.”
Tammy Bjelland, CEO, Workplaceless
As professionals, I feel we have a duty to be part of the future of work, and remote work is one dimension to explore. The opportunities are endless. The challenges too. And that’s what makes it interesting.
“Think about new processes, working remotely is not about reproducing the office.
Marcus Wermuth - Mobile Lead, Buffer
The kids in Tubbercurry, 11 of them helped out at the conference if I remember correctly, may or may not be future remote workers, but they already know a lot about remote work and they know it’s a path they can take.
“It’s up to us to normalise the concept. Remote work is natural.”
John Riordan, Director of Support, Shopify
I for one look forward to the next remote working conference in Ireland. I leave you with one final quote.
“Remote is here to stay.”
Francesc Artigas Rost, Solutions Lead EMEA, Asana
Remote work is here to stay indeed. It is the future of work and the future is now.