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One of the unexpected outcomes from the COVID-19 pandemic was the wide acceptance of remote working, when the majority of staff across the country were forced to work from home from early 2020. Since then, many employees have enjoyed increased work/life balance, less commuting, and now seek remote or hybrid working as part of their permanent working arrangements.
While home working was well and good for many months, we also know that there were downsides, including isolation, patchy Wi-Fi, and less collaboration. We are now seeing some employees looking to work from remote co-working spaces, in particular those who may have returned home to remote locations, or moved away from cities during the pandemic. With the increased prices in buying and renting homes in cities such as London, Dublin, and Belfast, combined with the flexibility offered with remote working, many people are moving and settling down in more remote locations.
In the Republic of Ireland, a nationwide network of hubs has been established since the pandemic, with over 270 co-working hubs, 4500 desks, and 360 meeting rooms available to remote workers across the country. ConnectedHubs.ie offers remote workers in Ireland a catalogue of co-working spaces across the country, with prices as low as €15 to rent a desk for the day.
One of these facilitators of co-working spaces is Enterprising Monaghan, who assist and support entrepreneurs, start-ups, and SMEs throughout the county in a number of ways, including offering high-quality, affordable hot desks and office space in Monaghan Town and the surrounding area, including Northern Ireland.
Finbarr Daly, the CEO of Enterprising Monaghan says, “Our co-working facilities offer high-speed internet, private meeting facilities, video-conferencing facilities, and access to printers, all of which have attracted a number of remote workers from Monaghan and surrounding counties, who no longer want to commute to cities such as Dublin and Belfast.”
These co-working spaces provide employees with the office-like feel, and all necessary equipment and facilities, while taking away the hassle of a long commute. It also avoids the working from your bedroom or kitchen fatigue that many of us have experienced and suffered!
In Northern Ireland, we have similar initiatives up and running. Jim Eastwood, General Manager of Cookstown Enterprise, Centre said, “We realised that things were happening through the pandemic and it became obvious that working close to home was here for the foreseeable future”. Jim adds, “We are encouraging employers to let people work close to their home in Cookstown, in a professional environment, rather than travelling hours to work in Belfast or Dublin. It works for the employer and the employee.”
It is clear that remote and hybrid working are here to stay, and co-working hubs, such as Enterprising Monaghan and Cookstown Enterprise Centre, are creating an opportunity to get the best of both worlds – an office, close to home. Since the pandemic, the routine of daily and weekly work has changed for many employers, and employees who have perfectly demonstrated that, with the proper facilities, many aspects of their regular work can now be conducted remotely.
Employers, too, have recognised that there can be a significant benefit to both parties when a hybrid working model is adopted, with productivity and efficiency not being adversely affected.
Employees also benefit from the interaction with like-minded business professionals, and the potential for marginalisation and isolation at home is avoided with regular opportunities to exchange conversation over a coffee in a communal kitchen has many benefits – not to mention the networking opportunities.
As Finbarr and Jim both agree – “it’s like having your office near home but not at home!”