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Trailblazers in Technology: Meet the woman who is disrupting the traditional 9-5 job

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26th Dec 2019
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Welcome to our Trailblazers in Technology series, in partnership with Samsung. Here we’ll profile six powerhouse women dominating not just the technology world, but their chosen area of profession. Together with Samsung, IMAGE is serious about championing female entrepreneurs, businesswomen and those who take risks everyday to reap the benefits of success. Buckle up as we introduce you to six leading professional women who are doing it not just for themselves, but for women everywhere. This week we profile Ciara Garvan, the founder of WorkJuggle.

They say necessity is the mother of invention, but sometimes frustration can play a part too. 

Three years ago, Ciara Garvan was working in IT and commuting from Malahide in Co. Dublin to her office in Sandyford. Traffic along the M50 was often at a standstill and she began to wonder if there was a way that she could avoid the 15-20 hours a week that she was spending in her car. 

“What struck me is that I was working for a big multinational at the time and I was dealing with people from everywhere. From India, from California — and they weren’t sitting at their desks that early. They weren’t sitting in a room together. 

“I just thought there has to be other people out there like myself.”

As a mother to three children, Ciara had already considered flexible work options. The problem, she explains, is that recruitment companies were never open to the idea. 

“I really wanted to find something that was a little more family-friendly or flexible — even just to know if it was possible to work from home once a week. But the recruitment agencies had no interest. Even just the conversation — it wasn’t there at all.”

And so the idea for WorkJuggle — a recruitment service that specialises in flexible working, time-bound projects and remote working — was born.

WorkJuggle was launched in 2016 and Ciara, who holds a Masters in Applied Computing, built the first iteration of the website herself. “I found when I built the website, everyone took the idea a little more seriously,” she says. “And it wasn’t hard at all,” she adds. “Genuinely, I think if you can do your Tesco shop online, you can build a website.”

WorkJuggle is for workers who don’t want to be confined by a traditional 9-5 job. And while their clients tend to be working parents who are juggling a lot of balls, they are also fielding an increasing number of enquiries from millennials who want to be free to work from wherever they wish. 

“What I like about WorkJuggle is that you can log on in your own home and see what kind of flexible roles are out there as opposed to getting into town and meeting 20 different recruiters and having to initiate that conversation,” she says. “It just gives people a bit more control over it.”

Remote work is a growing trend in Ireland and while there is no clear data on its prevalence, a pilot survey undertaken to inform the 2021 Census found that 18% of respondents worked from home, mostly one or two days per week.

Cloud computing and high-speed broadband have helped to make remote work opportunities possible, says Ciara, while a shift in attitude among employers is leading to widespread adoption of the concept.

“As working from home has become more popular, people have started to call it remote working,” she explains. “And remote working sounds quite dynamic and cool, whereas ‘working from home’ sounds like you’re putting the laundry on.”

Practising what they preach, the entire team in WorkJuggle work remotely. “The way I see it, all the people who work for me are really good and I just wouldn’t get them if I said you need to be in town at 9am on a Monday morning.

“But they do it because they can drop their kids to school and then go home and work from their home office and then when we meet up we meet in coffee shops or in my house around the kitchen table. That’s how we like to work.”

And it’s how she thinks we’ll all work in the future. “I think offices as we know them are really going to change. Instead of going into a huge office building in the city centre and having a huge commute, people will start working in a hub closer to their home.

“And I think people will cycle through different phases of work much more. I think they’ll ramp up in some periods of their lives and scale back in other periods of their lives.

“We’ll also start to consider the environmental impact of the commute and city centre offices,” she adds. “In some ways, I think it’s going to become more old-fashioned. Like my grandparents, they worked from their home. Okay, it was a farm but that’s how people worked back then and I think, in some ways, we’re going to go back to that a little bit.”

For now, though, Ciara is happy to disrupt the traditional 9-5 office job from the comfort of her kitchen table. “The internet has really democratised things,” she says, “and that allows me to compete with much bigger companies from my own home. I’m very focused when I work from home and I think it gives everyone great autonomy and flexibility.”

Follow the Trailblazers in Technology series, in partnership with Samsung, on social with #IMAGETrailblazers. IMAGE has long been a champion of women in business, as seen in our Businesswoman of the Year, Business Summit and Beauty of Business pillars. In Samsung, we found the perfect partner to champion women in tech. For the last two years, we’ve ran the hugely successful The Pitch competition, where a small enterprise has the opportunity to win €100,000 worth of high-tech Samsung products to propel their business to the next level. For more on The Pitch read here