Leo Varadkar TD
Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment
The pandemic has given us all the opportunity to reflect on the type of society and economy we want. One of the areas it has changed our perspective on is how and more importantly, where we work.
As the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, millions of people and businesses around the world moved from the office to remote working overnight. This shift might have taken decades if it had been planned. Instead, it took days.
Finding the new normal
I believe that when the pandemic is over, many of us will return to the office, but I hope things will never be the same again. Video-conferencing will be more common and travelling for work much less so. Most of us will be blended workers, working sometimes from the office and other times from home, a hub or on the go.
On balance these will be changes for the better. Less commuting, more time for family and leisure, fewer greenhouse gas emissions and cleaner air will be among the benefits. New job opportunities will be created for people who want to live in rural Ireland, people with disabilities and people with caring responsibilities. Small towns and villages will see new investment, greater footfall and spend.
As the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, millions of people and businesses around the world moved from the office to remote working overnight.
However, as with any opportunity, there are challenges. We do not want to turn our homes into workplaces where we are always on. Talented people can work from anywhere in the world so we need to ensure Irish cities and towns are attractive places to live and work and provide an eco-system that will attract and retain talented and highly qualified people. We want to spread jobs more evenly across the country, but we do not want to lose them to abroad. We want our city centres to remain vibrant places. So, we have a plan to mitigate these challenges.
Among the main actions we are taking are:
- Leading by example by mandating that home and remote working should be the norm for 20% of public sector employees.
- Modernising the treatment of remote working for the purposes of tax and expenditure in the most recent Budget, and subsequent budgets.
- Mapping and investing in a network of remote working hubs across Ireland.
- Legislating for the right to request remote working.
- Implementing a code of practice for the right to disconnect.
- Doing what we can to accelerate the provision of high-speed broadband to all parts of Ireland.
The world of work has changed forever. Through the actions above, we will ensure remote work is an integral part of building a new and better future.