BY JOHN ELLIS, FINANCIAL ADVISOR
Would you like to work, or continue to work, remotely? If so you are not alone as according to a recent Taxback.com survey more than 6 in 10 workers “love the idea” of remote working hubs and would be willing to use one of the Government’s new Connected Hubs facilities, if there was one in their area.
This survey is on foot of an announcement earlier this year by the Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD of a new partnership between the national Connected Hubs network and the global peer-to-peer and online collaboration platform Zoom.
During her speech she outlined the launch of connectedhubs.ie mobile app in conjunction with Zoom, a company that is synonymous with innovation and remote working. The Minister announced an additional €5m of funding to add remote work capacity across the country. It is part of the original DigiWest network that was the genesis of the national Connected Hubs platform which has since grown into the Connected Hubs network with more than 200 nationwide, and another 200 to come.
Harry Moseley of Zoom commented, “Connected Hubs is an outstanding global example of how we can drive positive revolution for our rural regions. It’s incredibly refreshing to see the Irish Government lead from the forefront and embrace this new era of flexible working, encompassed by the National Remote Working Strategy. We recognise Connected Hubs as a key driver in bringing the ambitions and objectives of that strategy to life. As the initiative works towards onboarding 400 hubs nationwide, we want to ensure that hub users have full access to the ever-evolving technology innovations Zoom are bringing on stream.”
Connectedhubs.ie through partnership with Zoom will equip remote workers to enable better collaboration and innovation and will, the hope is, become a permanent feature in the Irish workplace. Remote working hubs aim to support remote workers across the country by providing desk space in a range of repurposed buildings such as former convents, bank buildings, garda stations, and other unused buildings. To date, the State has invested more than €100m in the venture.
If the survey is anything to go by, the demand for these facilities could do well to drive an even greater supply – be it from Government or private bodies – as of the taxpayers who are familiar with the concept of remote work hubs, 63% said they “love the idea”, while just over a fifth (21%) would rather work from home. The remainder (16%) preferred to work from the office even though 55% of those surveyed consider working in the office to be more expensive than working from home.
Barry Cahill, Director of Taxback.com said, “Working in the office is more costly than working from home. This stands to reason, as the expenses incurred going into the office every day can stack up pretty quickly – the cost of commuting is the obvious one, and probably the most significant, for most people, but there are also the costs of lunches, coffees, even work clothes adding to the bill.“
While far fewer people – 14% – felt that working from home was more financially demanding, there are no doubt still expenses incurred with a home office. For example, utility bills will be higher, particularly in the winter when the heating is on more.
Work hubs could really come into their own in the wake of the pandemic as organisations in certain industries have come to the realisation that staff don’t always have to be on-site. There is a benefit for regional development and should deliver for local economies, perhaps even addressing the current rising property prices. For example, someone once based in Dublin can now work from a hub in the West of Ireland, then this could open prospects for them in terms of home ownership.
But a quarter of respondents said that they didn’t know what these hubs are and are not aware of the facility in their own areas, which isn’t altogether surprising, but perhaps in 12 – 24 months they will become much more mainstream. Kilkenny has two such hubs in the city and quick online search will get you all the details.
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