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Remote work was undoubtedly the talk of the town at this year’s Dublin Tech Summit, fueled partially by the publication of the 2022 Irish census results, which coincided with the summit’s kickoff.
One finding, in particular, helped trigger discussion at the event. The study found that 32 percent of the workforce in Ireland operates from home at least some of the time. During a conversation between Tracey Keogh, Co-Founder of Grow Remote, and Mark Jordan, CEO of Skillnet Ireland, an audience member asked the speakers if Ireland’s much-publicized housing shortages and high rent prices could perhaps be a roadblock for remote work opportunities in the country.
Jordan acknowledged that remote work can be uncomfortable for people living in small box-room apartments in urban centers. He specified that “remote work can be challenging because people feel the need to be constantly in meetings and constantly be productive.” Consequently, he stated that people sit in small spaces for long stretches of the day, potentially taking a toll on one’s wellbeing. For Jordan, the solution to this is more remote working hubs in towns and villages across the country.
1. There are some fears around the ascendance of remote work.
Many of the downsides of remote work were hashed out between Keogh and Jordan, such as purported disengagement, participation, and onboarding issues. Apart from the country’s housing shortages, Keogh shed light on a different obstacle fueling remote work hesitance.
Anecdotally, Keogh referenced an Irish branch of a multinational corporation that told her they were afraid that if they worked remotely, their branch might get moved to Switzerland. So, although flexible working has become increasingly normalized, workers still struggle with fears of job security when transitioning to remote-first operations.
2. When it comes to culture, actions speak louder than words.
Brett Martin, Founder of Kumospace, focused explicitly on the issue of company culture in remote settings. In his talk, How to Build a Strong Culture with a Remote Team, Martin pegged the official definition of company culture (the beliefs and ideas a company has that, ultimately, impact how it does business) as “meaningless.” To reinforce his argument, he cited two high-profile examples: Wells Fargo and Uber.
Wells Fargo, Martin explained, spoke of “integrity.” Yet, they were forced to pay over USD 3 billion due to their scandal involving fake bank accounts. Meanwhile, Uber, who professed to be about “respect for people,” also ran amok, sabotaging competitors, ignoring regulations, and conducting intimidation tactics.
Therefore, in Martin’s mind, actions speak louder than words. The way a manager treats their team will mold that team’s own behavior. “Culture becomes the person in the room when you’re not there.” This is especially true for remote work,” he says.
3. There is no silver bullet to building a remote work culture.
This led to the inevitable question of how to build a solid company culture for a remote team. Martin confessed immediately that there is no silver bullet but that “a once-a-month Zoom happy hour does not make a culture.” One idea that Martin put forward was virtual bonding.
This practice, which he exercises at his own company every Monday morning, involves team show-and-tell sessions. Each team member on the call will share something personal from their weekend and something professional from their previous week.
On the issue of culture, Claire Thomas, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at Hitachi Vantara, addressed the managers in the audience, saying: “Your team’s children are going to know your name. What do you want them to think about you? Considering that, we may well show up slightly differently sometimes.”
4. Remote work is the future of work.
G-P’s own Mark Hedley, Vice-President of Talent Acquisition, sat down alongside Ruth Meehan, Head of People Partners at Udemy, for a conversation on remote work. Hedley stated his belief that remote work will be the future of work. “We were forced into these changes [by the pandemic]. Ten years’ worth of change happened in one year. So, there has been a little pullback now. But mission-focused, purpose-driven organizations will focus on what people really want,” he says.
Meehan agreed that forward-thinking companies will adopt remote models, whether fully remote or hybrid. She stated that although there is a reluctance to relinquish the “line of sight” model, “outputs over presence” will prevail. “The more we adapt to technology, the more we will move on,” she explained.
For Hedley, one of the most critical aspects around remote work adoption is that companies do not create two segments of workers — office versus remote — whereby proximity bias can take root. Companies need to use tools to ensure remote workers have the same access as office workers. Concluding their discussion on remote work, Hedley summarized: “Technology and tools are making remote work stick in 2023.”
The future of global growth technology
Modern work has been transformed by technological advances, and as pioneers of the global employment industry, G-P unveiled its vision for global growth technology at Dublin Tech Summit. Sparked by the demands and opportunities of the everywhere workforce, G-P announced future AI-based products that will provide rich insights and global expertise, remove the friction for global expansion, and ensure compliant employee lifecycle management.