Regional Co-Working Analysis
More than 1 in 4 private sector workers are capable of operating remotely, analysis from the 3 Regional Assemblies of Ireland shows
Remote working has the potential to open up an array of economic and environmental opportunities for all our regions
More than one in four private sector workers in Ireland is capable of working remotely a new report shows.
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.
Creating conditions necessary for sustaining jobs and regional competitive advantages, while increasing the attractiveness of the Region as a location to work, live and invest is a key aim for all three Regional Assemblies in the Regional Spatial and Economic Strategies (RSES).
Providing a wide range of options will attract highly skilled workers and retain them in our regions. With remote working very much becoming part of normal working patterns in certain sectors, this potential has gained significant traction and attention since the outbreak of COVID-19. To help fully understand this potential, the Regional Assemblies have taken an important step in building a stronger evidence-based approach through the Regional Co-Working Analysis report.
The report provides a stocktaking exercise on the number of private sector workers capable of operating remotely at regional and county level. The degree to which regions can capitalise on the potential of remote working will depend on a variety of factors - including but not limited to - the quality and strategic location of co-working hubs available. To explore this further, the three Regional Assemblies of Ireland have – through desktop research and consultations with Local Enterprise Offices – embarked on identifying co-working hubs throughout the country.
The Regional Co-Working Analysis does not provide the complete picture on remote working. Further areas of analysis and research are required and the report itself will evolve. It does provide a greater level of data in the public domain that can be complemented by further datasets and future analysis. It will also spark a discussion and a call for action on how Ireland can maximise the potential for remote working.
The report identifies eight areas for consideration relating to how gaps in information can be addressed to establish a better evidence-based approach to progress remote working. It suggests actions that could be taken to promote remote working.
The areas of consideration for policymakers include 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 on a permanent basis. It suggests a nationwide survey be carried out on 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. The Regional co-working Analysis proposes a nationwide survey that identifies the ideal work location of potential private sector remote workers, while simultaneously identifying the work patterns of commuters who have remote workable jobs.
Economist with the three Regional Assemblies of Ireland, John Daly, said the outbreak of COVID-19 has had a profound impact on all our working environments. “With remote working very much becoming part of normal working patterns in certain 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, policy makers could help provide a wider range of options for workers and open opportunities for business solutions. This includes allowing some workers to live and work in geographical areas of their own choice, reducing business costs associated with commercial properties, staff retention and wellbeing benefits, access to greater pool of applicants and talent, increasing productivity, reducing traffic congestion, enhancing quality of life and family time and reducing the level of greenhouse gas emissions from car usage.”
From a strategic perspective the ability of policy makers to utilise the potential benefits of remote working will also be a key factor in ensuring the vision and objectives of each Assembly’s Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy (RSES) can be implemented, allowing for effective economic development to be achieved across Ireland,” he said.
“The economic vision for the Southern Region, as expressed in the Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy (RSES), is to enable sustainable, competitive, inclusive and resilient growth. Remote working has already played a large part in managing public health vulnerabilities and has created a capacity to weather this unprecedented economic shock. Remote working also has considerable longer-term potential in creating a smart, resilient and sustainable Southern Region.
This economic analysis adds to the evidence that de-coupling dependency from daily communing over long distances can enhance the quality of life, reduce environmental impacts and support more sustainable business practices. This will assist in sustaining our capacity for growth, realising RSES and Project Ireland 2040 policy objectives, and preparing our country for a more Climate resilient future “
Eight Areas of Consideration for Policymakers
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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 per cent match funding requirement for these type of REDF projects that will provide a sizeable economic uplift to a geographical area.
- Utilise resources from the “European Regional Development Fund” to assist in developing 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. 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.
- 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.