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Sunday, January 23, 2022

OPINION: Remote-working is essential going forward for Ireland, the economy and people’s lives

Since March 2020 and the emergence of Covid-19, remote-working has become a massive part of many people’s day-to-day lives.

A survey carried out by National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG) in April 2021 surveyed over 6,000 people in Ireland, and will be the main tool used throughout this piece.

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According to the survey, the top advantages of working remotely are: greater flexibility, makes life easier, and increases productivity. However, interestingly 51% of respondents said they work more hours when they work remotely, rather than working on-site. Therefore, there is a very real and clear benefit to working remotely, for both the employer and the employee.

Let’s divide this piece in to two separate elements; the economic benefits, and the quality-of-life benefits of working remotely.

Economic benefits:

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Over the past several decades, investment has been heavily saturated and aimed towards our cities, in particular our capital, Dublin. This has ultimately led to the diminishing of rural regions, as well as towns throughout the country. The lack of investment in these regions has forced people to migrate towards the cities, ultimately leaving behind a continuously waning region. Remote-working will allow people to move back, and stay in their home town, or a rural region throughout the country.

24% of respondents to the survey said they would consider relocating based on their experience of remote-working, while a staggering 9% have already relocated within the past year. Relocating to these rural areas will encourage regional development, allow for further businesses to grow and develop, and will also encourage investment, both internationally and nationally, to further develop and grow Ireland’s towns and rural areas.

Likewise, there will be benefits to cities throughout the country, particularly Dublin, which has been heavily burdened by sky-rocketing rents and house prices due to the abundance of people migrating there over the past few decades from across Ireland and beyond, as well as the housing crisis. Remote-working will take an abundance of pressure off our capital, which should drive down housing and rental costs, which will allow people to live there more accessibly. Also, there is a very real opportunity to re-create the city, to form it into a social hub, to further grow and develop the retail and hospitality sector within the city.

Remote-working will ultimately allow Ireland’s towns and rural regions to develop and grow once again, while also taking pressure off the cities, in particular Dublin, which has been heavily burdened in recent times.

Quality-of-life benefits:

Firstly, commuting will be greatly reduced, which has been such a burden on many workers lives throughout the country, some having to travel hours to and from their workplace each day.

Reducing commuting in itself creates a myriad of benefits, such as the mental health benefits, being able to spend more time on leisure/wellness activities and being able to spend more time with family and loved ones. The precious time and finance spent on commuting, will be saved and allowed to be given to something more important. Likewise, the reduction in commuting will ultimately lead to the reduction in C02 emissions.

As mentioned above, the social benefits for people’s health and mental wellbeing of remote-working in some capacity are substantial. The extra free time not spent commuting will be spent on leisure/wellness activities, such as exercise, or, spent with family and loved ones.

The survey found that 95% of respondents were in favour of remote-working on an ongoing basis to some extent. Likewise, 44% of team managers believe that remote working positively impacts the productivity of their team.

There are massive socio-economic benefits to remote-working for the employee, employer, the economy and the nations development. Both employees and employers are heavily in favour of remote-working in some capacity going forward. Taking all of this into account, remote-working in some capacity will be a hugely beneficial approach going forward for the country.

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