Nearly 4,000 workers in Laois could work remotely from home or hub

Days of office work numbered in Laois and many other counties?

Conor Ganly

Reporter:

Conor Ganly

Email:

news@leinsterexpress.ie

Laois businesses make the move from the kitchen table to a co-working hub

Christine Kenna of BizEquip at her desk in Webmill, remote working hub in Mountmellick in 2019.

A new study estimates that nearly 4,000 workers in Laois could work remotely or home or at a remote co-working hub without having to be in an office or other company workplace.

The Regional Co-Working Analysis – which was prepared by the three Regional Assemblies of Ireland – found that 387,000 private-sector workers are capable of operating remotely in Ireland; with just over 186,000 likely to be based in Dublin.

It found that 65.5% or 253,600 were based in the Eastern & Midland counties.

A closer look at analysis from the Eastern and Midland Regional Assembly Area shows that there are 3,888 people who could make the switch to remote working in Laois. It also found that Laois is well placed to meet the need due to having nine co-working hubs.

Some of the Laois hubs have already united under the Laois Hubs Collective with the aim of the county the co-working centre of Ireland.

Dublin City local authority area has the highest number of private-sector jobs capable of operating remotely at 84,702 followed by Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown at 39,982, Fingal at 34,178, South Dublin at 27,614 and Kildare at 18,475. The Meath local authority area tally stands at 14,659 followed by Wicklow at 12,887, Louth at 8,478, Westmeath at 4,461,  Laois 3,888 Offaly at 2,953 and Longford at 1,322.

It also found that there are 158 co-working hubs in the region by local authority area, and these include 75 in Dublin city; 17 in Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown;11 in Fingal, 8 in South Dublin and 7 in Kildare.

The joint analysis shows 4 in the Meath local authority area, 10 in Wicklow, 9 in Louth, 4 in Westmeath, 9 in Laois, 4 in Offaly and none in Longford.

Among its eight considerations for policymakers is the safeguarding of funding for the National Broadband Plan to allow for the delivery of up to 300 “Broadband Connection Points” across Ireland, providing remote working opportunities in rural communities.

It also proposes exploring the potential of providing employers with a tax credit for every employee that is allowed to operate outside of its own head office in Ireland.

Economist John Daly with the three Regional Assemblies of Ireland said the outbreak of COVID-19 had a profound impact on all our working environments.

“With remote working very much becoming part of regular working patterns in specific sectors, it is clear that such changes have the potential to open up an array of economic and environmental opportunities for all of our regions.”

“By supporting remote working, policymakers could help provide a broader range of options for workers and to open opportunities for business solutions. These include supporting some workers to live and work in geographical areas of their choice, reducing business costs associated with commercial properties and staff retention.  Changes could lead to wellbeing benefits, access to a greater pool of applicants and talent, increasing productivity, reducing traffic congestion, enhancing the quality of life and family time and reducing the level of greenhouse gas emissions from car usage.

“From a strategic perspective, the ability of policymakers to rely on the potential benefits of remote working will be a key factor in supporting the implementation of the vision and objectives of each Assembly’s Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy (RSES), allowing for effective economic development to be achieved across Ireland,” he said.

Eight Areas of Consideration for Policymakers

1)      Prepare detailed consultation with private firms in sectors that are capable of operating remotely, seeking their views on factors that need to be addressed to allow employees to work remotely from co-working hubs on a permanent basis.

2)      Prepare a nationwide survey of the current capacity of co-working hubs – both privately and publicly owned – in consultation with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Enterprise Ireland, the Regional Assemblies of Ireland and the Local Enterprise Offices

3)      Prepare a nationwide survey that identifies the ideal work location of private-sector workers whose jobs are considered to be remote workable, while simultaneously identifying the up-to-date habits of commuters who have remote workable jobs.

4)      Explore the possibility of providing employers with a tax credit for every employee that is allowed to operate outside of its own head office in Ireland, as a means of encouraging private firms to let employees work in geographical locations of their own choice

5)      Enhance the level of funding provided to the “Regional Enterprise Development Fund” (REDF) in order to deliver more co-working hubs in line with the findings of the above consultation process. Such funding should also be delivered using local knowledge from appropriate local authorities and the Regional Assemblies of Ireland. Additional funding in this regard should be concentrated on delivering high-quality co-working hubs of scale within or in close proximity to designated Regional Growth Centres and Key Towns as defined by each Assembly’s RSES and prominent rural communities.

6)      Explore a range of match funding opportunities for REDF projects that will deliver additional co-working hubs of scale within or in close proximity to Designated Regional Growth Centres and Key Towns as defined by each Assembly’s RSES and prominent rural communities. This could involve – but wouldn’t be limited to – encouraging private sector companies to provide an element of match funding for these type of REDF projects or possibly removing the 20% match funding requirement for these type of REDF projects that will provide a sizeable economic uplift to a geographical area.

7)      Utilise resources from the “European Regional Development Fund” to assist in developing high-quality co-working hubs of scale within or close to designated Regional Growth Centres and Key Towns as defined by each Assembly’s RSES and prominent rural communities. Such funding should be delivered using the findings of the above consultation process and local knowledge from appropriate local authorities and the Regional Assemblies of Ireland.

8)      Safeguard funding for the National Broadband Plan to allow for the delivery of up to three hundred “Broadband Connection Points” across Ireland, providing remote working opportunities in rural communities.