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Belfast Telegraph

Making remote work

The Irish Government has just published a National Remote Work Strategy – Making Remote Work – that is their plan for addressing the fundamental changes to the way we work post-Covid. The report is issued by their Department for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, which is led by Leo Varadkar TD, Tánaiste and Minister for DETE.

This report is one of the first in Europe, and is worth a read in full by anyone interested or responsible for how your organisation will manage the future of work. In case you missed it, the report can be found here. This article highlights a few key findings and recommendations, but I would encourage you to read the full report, as it will have implications for NI and the rest of the UK.

Their research was carried out in October 2020, and found that 94 percent of participants would like to work remotely after the crisis. I would venture a guess that people in your organisation who have been working remotely would also like the option to continue to do so, at least some of the time after the crisis, so planning for that now is critical.

The objective, the report states, is to ensure that remote working is a permanent feature in the Irish workplace in a way that maximises economic, social and environmental benefits. The report highlights the six main actions that the Department plans to take, which include; (1) Mandating that home and remote work should be the norm for 20 percent of public sector employment; (2) Reviewing the treatment of remote working for the purposes of tax and expenditure in the next Budget; (3) Mapping and investing in a network of remote working hubs across Ireland; (4) Legislating for the right to request remote working; (5) Developing a code of practice for the right to disconnect; and (6) Doing what we can to accelerate the provision of high-speed broadband to all parts of Ireland.

As indicators of the winds of change, that list includes some significant shifts that all employers should consider in their planning. The report clearly states that progress on remote working can’t be made by the State alone. Employers will have a crucial role in moving the remote working agenda forward. It is important that employers review their businesses to determine if remote work is suitable for their business model. Whilst remote work is an option for many employers, the report acknowledges that not all roles are compatible with remote working arrangements.

The report states that it is paramount that employers discuss remote working arrangements with their employees and come together to manage the resulting implications, costs and expectations. This includes actions such as implementing a remote work policy that sets out clear criteria under which employees can request remote work, establishing a review or appeal process for those who are turned down, and providing adequate training to all staff. Employers also must ensure that they are in compliance with employment rights and industrial relations legislation, including those to be observed in line with employee privacy.

This may be the first big fundamental change to the future of ‘how we live’ that has been instigated by the Pandemic.

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