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Future of Work Q2 2022

Helping companies retain talent through remote working hubs

iStock / Getty Images Plus / Svitlana Hulko

Minister Heather Humphreys

Department of Rural and Community Development

If there was one benefit from the pandemic, it is that it resulted in a national pilot programme on remote working. And it proved it could work.

We have all experienced the benefits of remote working: reduced commutes, a lower carbon footprint, more time to spend with family and friends; and increased footfall and activity in our local towns and villages.

Blended working approach

However, remote working does not necessarily mean spending Monday to Friday working from your kitchen table or the makeshift office in the spare bedroom. In fact, I’m of the view that this is not a healthy option for many people as – cabin fever can set in and the lines between work life and family life can become blurred.

Moreover, this doesn’t have to be a binary choice. It’s not a case of Option A: work from home or Option B: commute to the city. As that well known advert said: There’s always Option C.

Option C is Connected Hubs.

Leveraging the National Hubs Network

As part of ‘Our Rural Future’, my department has set out an ambitious goal to develop a national network of over 400 remote working hubs by 2025. Already over 240 remote working facilities are on board the Connected Hubs network with more coming on stream every month.

It is a single network providing users with information on the location of, and facilities available at remote working hubs throughout Ireland. Connected Hubs gives people the opportunity to live and work where they choose.

Now, your office can be anywhere. Your employee can be anywhere.

Connected Hubs is also gaining a significant profile, both at home and abroad. Earlier this year, I announced a partnership with Zoom, a company synonymous with remote working. The Network also works closely with the technology and innovation leader Cisco.

There are now significant opportunities for employers of all sizes to leverage the National Hub Network directly. The team have for some time been developing a corporate service to support corporate clients interested in using our national network to accommodate their employees, but also to enable them gain access to the vast pool of talent that Ireland has to offer.

For decades, we have seen global trends where our young people say goodbye to their families and communities and move to the larger cities in search of work. The pandemic has turned that on its head.

Now, your office can be anywhere. Your employee can be anywhere. The challenge now is to make sure we do not slip back into the old normal.

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