Working from home is Ireland’s new normal

Are you self-motivated and prefer to operate to your own time clock?

Working from home is Ireland’s new normal

Working from home is Ireland’s new normal. Are you self-motivated and prefer to operate to your own time clock?

If the answer is ‘yes’, then you’ll probably make a good home worker. With more and more companies outsourcing much of their work, remote working continues to increase every passing year — and will account for a very large portion of the workforce by 2025.

In a survey conducted by remote working and freelance search site FlexJobs, 1,500 jobseekers were asked why they preferred flexible work options, the number one reason was work-life balance at 74%.

Health and family reasons came second at 52%, followed by 47% citing time savings and reduced commute stress, and 43% for cost savings.

When respondents were asked: “Where do you go when you really need to get something done for work?” — 54% opted for the home, rather than the office.

In a recent ‘Year in Job Search’ report, employment site Indeed revealed that the number of people searching for jobs using the term ‘remote’ surged 171% — driven mainly by technology advances seeing companies adopting more flexible approaches to remote working.

“Year-on-year trends highlight ongoing changes in the way Irish people work,” said Indeed’s Europe, Middle East and Asia vice president Gerard Murnaghan.

For employers, remote working has become more of an option for staff as technology and broadband speeds advance. From an employee’s perspective, remote working gives them a flexibility to overcome things like childcare commitments or challenging commutes, or to simply maximise their productivity and time.

Murnaghan said the rising numbers searching for part-time work shows how work lives are being shaped by wider social change.

“People live much longer now and, when they reach retirement age, they frequently want or need to keep their foot in the door of the jobs’ market. This is leading to increasing demand for flexible, part-time employment options, which allow people to continue achieving career goals and provide ongoing financial security.”

For an increasing cohort of workers, life is no longer defined by traffic and stress but a lifestyle and mindset based around flexible hours and the independence of keeping their own schedules.

Ireland can become a haven for remote networking, attracting high-value labour to all parts of the country while easing demand on high-cost housing and rents in major cities — such was the message delivered at the inaugural Grow Remote conference for remote and smart working.

Comprised of co-working managers, freelancers, nomadic workers and remote working companies, Grow Remote believes that developing a community around remote working is key to building thriving rural communities, and one at which Ireland can utilise significant opportunities.

With some 220,000 remote workers operating here, the group’s aim to build a full community around the concept will require an infrastructure of spaces, broadband and online connection platforms, allied to community advocates, resources and education.

“At this moment, there are 1,000 jobs in rural Ireland, but there is a disconnect between us and them,” goes the Grow Remote thinking.

“Local chapters mean joining the dots, and creating more opportunities for people who want to live outside of cities. The more talent you enable to have the freedom of a place to live, the more opportunity our rural towns will have.” Encouraging remote working could strengthen Ireland’s sales pitch for foreign direct investment at a time when many countries are competing aggressively for it.

“If we figure out a way to approach this as a service, a science and a discipline, that we are known as the remote working country, it is another aspect of our global value proposition we could sell,” said Denis Collins, CEO of Smarter Dynamix and the chair of IDA Ireland’s regional development committee.

It is a point echoed by Adam Coleman, CEO and owner of human resources software HRLocker: “If you want to really rejuvenate environments, you have to bring knowledge jobs because when knowledge jobs arrive, money arrives.”

Coleman’s company has customers in over 40 countries, and he’s working from Lahinch, on the western edge of Co Clare. Shopify has employees in every county, and has outpaced the targets it set for the Irish operation.

John Riordan, Shopify’s director of support, argues that encouraging remote working is a win for all sides. For companies already facing tough competition for skilled workers, they can now recruit from a much broader talent pool than if they were based in one area.

“We can set the world standard for remote if we want to. Let’s aim to be the number one country in world at attracting remote-working smart thinkers,” he says.

The benefits of remote working are already well enshrined — no commutes, more family time, less energy costs — allied to the broader advantages of reducing pressure on house prices and rent rates in major cities, and igniting social and commercial activity in small towns and villages.

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