A National Remote Work Strategy has been developed, with steps that may include the acceleration of the National Broadband Plan
Over the last year, the movement restrictions imposed by the pandemic have seen many of us grow very well acquainted with remote working. But, while working from home has proved viable for many businesses around the world, there still remains a major question of to what extent remote working will continue once the pandemic has finally passed.
On Friday, however, the Irish government made their position on the matter very clear, announcing a National Remote Work Strategy, aiming to ensure remote working remains a permanent feature in the post-Covid business world.
“The requirement to work from home where possible, for reasons of public health, has demonstrated how viable home, remote and blended working can be,” said Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar. “Post-pandemic, I want remote working to be part of a whole new world of work and this new Government strategy sets out how we will enable it.”
The strategy rests on three pillars:
1. Create a conducive environment for remote work
2. Develop and leverage remote work infrastructure
3. Build a remote work policy and guidance framework
Under this new strategy, employees will have the legal right to request remote work and a new code of practice will be introduced enshrining the ‘right to disconnect’. The government will also make a significant investment in remote work hubs in underserved areas, as well as possibly accelerating the National Broadband Plan to increase remote working viability.
"Great to see a forward thinking strategy such as this on remote working," read a LinkedIn post by Fergal Mulligan, Programme Director at the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications and programme director for the National Broadband Plan. "The roll out of a ‘National’ high speed broadband network is critical to this and many other government strategies around education, healthcare, tourism, farming etc etc and thankfully, unlike many countries, Ireland has a clear plan to make that a reality through the 2019 commitment that 100% of homes across Ireland will get future proofed broadband, regardless of how remote or rural."
While the transition to remote working was sudden and jarring for many of us, it should be noted that the concept was in fact gaining traction before the onset of the pandemic. In 2019, the government published a public consultation, the results of which formed the Remote Work in Ireland report, as well as conducting additional research in 2020 during lockdown. These results have been used to inform the new government strategy.
The Remote Work Strategy itself is set to be delivered throughout 2021 and, it is hoped, will have a significant impact on s increasing participation in the labour force, balanced regional development, transport infrastructure development, carbon mitigation, improving child and family wellbeing, and improving work/life balance.
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