More than 1 in 4 private sector workers are capable of operating remotely, analysis from the 3 Regional Assemblies of Ireland shows
Remote working has the potential to open up an array of economic and environmental opportunities for all our regions
More than one in four private-sector workers in Ireland is capable of working remotely, a new report shows. It indicates that the development of co-working hubs with high-speed broadband has the potential to open up an array of economic and environmental opportunities, and to stimulate inclusive recovery across the regions.
The Regional Co-Working Analysis – which was prepared by the three Regional Assemblies of Ireland – found that 387,000 private-sector workers are capable of operating remotely in Ireland; with just over 186,000 likely to be based in Dublin as of Q2 2020.
The comprehensive Regional Co-working Analysis provides critical data that will assist in developing the potential of remote working in our regions, a pattern which has become the norm since the COVID-19 outbreak began.
Of the 387,000 or 27.4% of private-sector workers capable of operating remotely in the analysis carried out in early 2020:
- 65.5% or 253,600 were based in the Eastern & Midland region
- 23.6% or 91,300 were based in the Southern region
- 10.9% or 42,100 were based in the Northern & Western region
As a share of total employment across the public and private sectors in the Eastern and Midland region, private-sector workers that were living in the region and are capable of operating remotely, accounted for 22.3% of all workers within the region, with the corresponding ratios for the Southern region and the Northern and Western region being 12.8% and 11.3% respectively.
A closer look at analysis from the Eastern and Midland Regional Assembly Area shows the Dublin City local authority area has the highest number of private-sector jobs capable of operating remotely at 84,702 followed by Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown at 39,982, Fingal at 34,178, South Dublin at 27,614 and Kildare at 18,475. The Meath local authority area tally stands at 14,659 followed by Wicklow at 12,887, Louth at 8,478, Westmeath at 4,461, Laois at 3,888, Offaly at 2,953 and Longford at 1,322.
There are 158 co-working hubs in the region by local authority area, and these include 75 in Dublin city; 17 in Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown;11 in Fingal, 8 in South Dublin and 7 in Kildare. The joint analysis shows 4 in the Meath local authority area, 10 in Wicklow, 9 in Louth, 4 in Westmeath, 9 in Laois, 4 in Offaly and none in Longford.
Among its eight considerations for policymakers is the safeguarding of funding for the National Broadband Plan to allow for the delivery of up to 300 “Broadband Connection Points” across Ireland, providing remote working opportunities in rural communities. It also proposes exploring the potential of providing employers with a tax credit for every employee that is allowed to operate outside of its own head office in Ireland
The 34-page report from the three Assemblies, charged with regional planning, establishes an evidence-based approach to growing remote working and provides eight areas of consideration in all. These findings will inform policymakers of the next steps needed to deliver additional co-working hubs, in line with their spatial and economic objectives.
Economist John Daly with the three Regional Assemblies of Ireland said the outbreak of COVID-19 had a profound impact on all our working environments. “With remote working very much becoming part of regular working patterns in specific sectors, it is clear that such changes have the potential to open up an array of economic and environmental opportunities for all of our regions.”
“By supporting remote working, policymakers could help provide a broader range of options for workers and to open opportunities for business solutions. These include supporting some workers to live and work in geographical areas of their choice, reducing business costs associated with commercial properties and staff retention. Changes could lead to wellbeing benefits, access to a greater pool of applicants and talent, increasing productivity, reducing traffic congestion, enhancing the quality of life and family time and reducing the level of greenhouse gas emissions from car usage.
“From a strategic perspective, the ability of policymakers to rely on the potential benefits of remote working will be a key factor in supporting the implementation of the vision and objectives of each Assembly’s Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy (RSES), allowing for effective economic development to be achieved across Ireland,” he said.
Eastern and Midland Regional Assembly Cathaoirleach, Cllr Pádraig McEvoy said: “Framed by the Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy, this economic analysis adds to the evidence that de-coupling dependency from daily communing over long distances can enhance the quality of life, reduce environmental impacts and support more sustainable business practices. The UN Sustainability Goals challenge all of us prepare for Climate Action in response to global changes. The regional assemblies play an active and meaningful role in preparing Ireland for a more resilient and sustainable future.”
The eight areas of consideration for policymakers include detailed consultation with private firms in sectors that are capable of operating remotely, seeking their views on factors that need to be addressed to allow employees to work remotely from co-working hubs on a permanent basis. It also suggests a nationwide survey be carried out on the current capacity of co-working hubs – both privately and publicly owned – in consultation with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Enterprise Ireland, the Regional Assemblies of Ireland and the Local Enterprise Offices.
The Regional co-working Analysis proposes a nationwide survey that identifies the ideal work location of private-sector workers whose jobs are considered to be remote workable, while simultaneously identifying the up-to-date habits of commuters who have remote workable jobs.
The joint analysis suggests exploring the possibility of providing employers with a tax credit for every employee that is supported to operate outside of its own head office in Ireland, as a means of encouraging private firms to let employees work in geographical locations of their own choice.
The analysis also urges policymakers to enhance the level of funding provided to the Regional Enterprise Development Fund and to explore a range of match funding opportunities to deliver more co-working hubs within or close to Designated Regional Growth Centres and Key Towns as defined by each Assembly’s Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy and prominent rural communities. Resources from the European Regional Development Fund for such works should also be considered.
The final recommendation is that funding is safeguarded for the National Broadband Plan to allow for the delivery of up to three hundred “Broadband Connection Points” across Ireland, providing remote working opportunities in rural communities.
The analysis also shows a total of 186,476 private-sector workers in Dublin were likely to be capable of operating remotely, as of Q2 2020. The Local Authority areas with the highest number of private-sector workers capable of operating remotely were likely to be in Dublin City (84,702 remote workable private-sector workers), Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown (39,982), Fingal (34,178), Cork County (29,074), South Dublin (27,614), Kildare (18,475), Meath (14,659), Wicklow (12,887), Limerick City and County (10,555) and Cork City (10,333).
The Local Authority areas that are likely to have the next highest number of private-sector workers capable of remote working included Galway County (9,739), Louth (8,478), Donegal (8,001), Wexford (7,163), Kerry (6,775), Galway City (6,620), Tipperary (6,396), Clare (6,350), Kilkenny (6,061), Waterford City and County (5,761) and Mayo (5,043).