Christine Kenna of BizEquip at her desk in Webmill, remote working hub in Mountmellick in 2019.
A new plan for remote working which, it is claimed will benefit towns and rural areas, includes an aim to legislate so that employees are legally entitled to request to work from home or other remote settings.
Launched by the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise Leo Varadkar outlined the main points of the Making Remote Work - National Remote Work Strategy .
• Mandating that home and remote work should be the norm for 20 percent of public sector employment.
• Reviewing the treatment of remote working for the purposes of tax and expenditure in the next Budget.
• Mapping and investing in a network of remote working hubs across Ireland.
• Legislating for the right to request remote working.
• Developing a code of practice for the right to disconnect.
• Accelerate the provision of high-speed broadband to all parts of Ireland.
The Tánaiste set out the background and aims.
"The pandemic has changed our world. It has also changed the world of work forever. Millions of people and businesses around the world had to change overnight moving from the office to home working and from interactions that occurred in person to interactions that occurred mainly on-line.
"This shift might have taken decades if it had been planned. Instead, it took days. I believe that when the pandemic is over,
many of us will return to the office, but things will never be the same again. Video-conferencing will be more common and travelling for work much less so.
"While some people will work full-time from the office or from home, 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 & leisure, and fewer transport greenhouse gas emissions 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. But there are risks as well. We do not want to turn our homes into workplaces where we are always on. We want to spread jobs more evenly across the country, but we do not want to lose them to abroad. We want to retain the creativity and innovation that flourishes from people meeting each other and do not want people to become isolated. We want our city centres to remain vibrant places," he said.
The plan sets a target of legislating to provide employees with the right to request remote work of the third quarter of this year.
See below a table of what the plan sets out as the different types of remote working.