THE new remote work strategy was published last Friday after two public consultations on Remote Work – the main points are as follows:
1. New legislation will be drawn up to give employees the right to request remote work.
2. The right to disconnect with be established for all employees.
3. Investment will take place in Remote work hubs throughout the country.
4. Tax and allowances for remote workers will be reviewed.
5. The National Broad band plan will be accelerated to meet the demands of remote working throughout the country.
No-one could have predicted 12 months ago that this seismic shift on attitudes towards flexible and remote work would happen so quickly.
We have been lobbying for years for the right to request flexible work to bring us in line with the UK. The challenge now is for companies to embrace this and to view it as a positive step towards improving the quality of employees' lives.
It has been proven that people working remotely or in a hybrid model of part office/part remote can be as productive - it is vital that companies develop the right policy and procedure around this now and ensure that both managers, leaders and employees are trained in this new way of working.
We can answer the cry from tumbleweed towns across Ireland who have seen their young people migrate to the cities for work, by distributing remote work throughout the island and breathing life back into these forgotten towns and villages.
There are so many advantages for all stakeholders to implementing this policy with gusto;
- Relieving the burden on congested cities and alleviating the housing crisis, pollution and traffic congestion
- Narrowing gender inequality in the workplace and allowing parents to continue their careers in a more flexible friendly working environment
- For employers – saving on real estate and office overheads with less staff turnover and studies have shown, increased productivity and thereby a healthier bottom line
- Employees will gain by reclaiming their autonomy at work and getting that work/life balance right.
(Remember that remote working in the future does not equate working from home during a pandemic – indeed the future remote working model will be a complete breeze in comparison!)
The new strategy, while very welcome, is not without it’s challenges and will not suit all businesses.
Some SME’s may not have the resources to provide the equipment for people to work from home.
Communication, trust, collaboration and measuring results are completely different in a remote work scenario.
There will be resistance from companies who favour the traditional presentee-ism model of bums on seats.
If work can indeed be done anywhere, our labour force is at risk, competing with other countries, where the cost of hiring and pay rates are considerably cheaper. Why pay for a software engineer in Ireland when their Indian counterpart can do it for a quarter of the price?
All of these aspects will need to be taken into consideration when shaping the final policy.
The amount of women we speak to who feel they are forced out of the workplace because their employer offers no flexibility is astounding.
It is really incredible, in this day and age that companies would risk losing superb talent because of their lack of understanding when it comes to offering flexible work to everyone in the workplace.
Diversity and Inclusion policies are just lip service if flexibility is not on the table to allow primary carers to continue with their careers’ Tánaiste Leo Varadkar states in the report that ‘the pandemic has changed our world. It has also changed the world of work forever. Millions of people and businesses around the world had to change overnight moving from the office to home working and from interactions that occurred in person to interactions that occurred mainly on-line. This shift might have taken decades if it had been planned. Instead it took days.’
One thing is for sure, the Future of Work looks a lot brighter for everyone than it did 12 months ago – every cloud has a silver lining!
Looking forward, remote working is not the same as working from home in a pandemic and we should anticipate a much better working day for everyone in this bright new future of work.
Karen O’Reilly Founder Employflex and Employmum See website: www.employflex.ie