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Remote work trend could see local economy boom

Virginia, Co. Cavan, Ireland

What is Remote Working?
 

RURAL TOWNS such as Virginia, Ballyjamesduff and Oldcastle have seen an exodus of their young people to Dublin and overseas as Ireland moved from it’s firm agricultural base to a prime destination for the growing tech-giants who have turned Dublin into Europe’s ‘Silicon Valley’. However, advances in lightning fast internet connections and the consequent growing move towards working from home spell out exciting possibilities for our area.

Helen Rahill, a Cavan native with years of experience in digital marketing, is the woman behind both the Virginia Pages on Facebook and, more recently, the Virginia Chapter of “Grow Remote”, an initiative to revitalise rural towns by helping to match locals with jobs in companies who are hiring remote workers.
“With new technologies people no longer have to go where the work is,” explains Helen. “The work can be brought to the people. People with small businesses creating products in remote areas are not limitied to selling in their local areas.”
The idea of remote working is not a new one. Helen points to farming as an example of remote working. “Farmers co-ops are a great example of remote working in operation. Major businesses grew out of co-ops, businesses supplying product all over the world today.”

The ‘Grow Remote’ initiative comes as Cavan County Council develop their digital strategy under the title “Connected Cavan”. The ideal “Doing more with digital” is the ethos and rationale that lies behind their efforts. The Council, along with Cavan Public Participation Network, have been planning a number of local community and citizen workshops around the county to get public input into the strategy. The “Grow Remote” group in Virginia has, understandably, a more local focus. In fact, Helen believes that Virginia could become a hub for digital marketing for the financial services industry.
“Digital marketing requires different skill sets to that traditionally required for financial services,” she explains. “The people they need to attract are not looking for the corner office on the 50th floor. As a service, it doesn’t need to be alongside the financial services part of the business. This service could be provided in Virginia. . The people providing the service would live in the area, walk by the lake and in the forest, you may find a few hammocks in the forest. They would join sports clubs in the area, send their children to school in the area, shop and socialize in the area. They would embrace the life style and become part of the community. These people would want to live in Virginia for the life style not because they can’t afford a house in Dublin. This is a people industry.”

Helen believes that remote working can build strong communities.
“You have to look at the whole person, not just the 7-8 hours working time,” she says. “You have to look at people from the cradle to the grave. That makes a community.”
The ‘Grow Remote’ chapter that Helen has started is part of a movement that has grown to over 100 chapters across the country along with a number abroad.
“It’s a bunch of people who believe that remote work is a powerful tool for the community,” she explains. “We’re mostly interested in rural areas and permanent (employed) remote work.

For anyone interested in further information on the local ‘Grow Remote’ initiative which can be found at Grow Remote Virginia

Helen’s “Virginia Pages” can be found on Facebook at this link Virginia Pages

This article first appeared in the first edition of The Rural Hub Community News

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