When it comes to remote working and how to implement it, Irish firms can take inspiration from those who have done it, as well as those helping others to make it work seamlessly.
Dublin-based technology firm Axonista, which provides video commerce for clients such as shopping channel giant QVC, had encouraged remote working long before the Covid-19 pandemic forced the hands of many Irish firms and workplaces.
Chief executive Claire McHugh soon found that when it came to retaining the best staff for Axonista some years ago, remote working options were a major incentive.
Ms McHugh said it was not a seamless process and required planning and an emphasis on culture and communication, but once the structures were put in place, there was no looking back.
Far from losing staff during the pandemic, there was a net gain of 10. Axonista plans to add further to its 35 staff this year.
Tánaiste @LeoVaradkar has published Ireland’s first National Remote Work Strategy to make remote working a permanent option for life after the pandemic.— Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (@DeptEnterprise) January 15, 2021
This will see new rules to allow employees the right to disconnect & to request remote working.
Remote working is so ingrained at Axonista now that there is no longer a physical office, and that may remain the case.
Workers across Ireland are joined by those in countries including Croatia and Spain. This makes their once-a-year physical get-together even more meaningful, Ms McHugh said.
"They can live and work in their own communities, or wherever they want to live, but once they feel part of the team, then it becomes embedded.
"You don't want to over-complicate the process. People enjoy the sense of freedom that remote working brings, but they also need to feel part of the organisation. Getting that balance right is important."
With communication vital for remote working, firms wondering how they can integrate their workforce remotely have a Cork firm to turn to.
Workvivo has seen growth of more than 200% in user numbers in the past year, with customers in more than 50 countries. Some 40% of its customer base has joined the platform since March. With more than 300,000 users, it is aiming for one million by the end of 2021.
Described as a Facebook for business, firms that have adapted its internal communications platform in Ireland include University College Cork (UCC), Woodies, Trigon Hotels, Irish Rail, and Bus Éireann.
Update from me on our plans to make remote working a real choice for more people, after the pandemic👇 pic.twitter.com/qZW8NyPgJk— Leo Varadkar (@LeoVaradkar) January 15, 2021
Chief executive of Bus Éireann Stephen Kent said moving remotely because of the pandemic posed an enormous challenge and Workvivo was transformative.
"They developed an internal communications platform for us, so it meant we could get out our communications and updates to staff all downloaded on phones. We have about 2,700 people in here, with around 2,300 of them with the app on their phones, and we have messages going out every day," he said.
"It has actually led to better information rather than less information, so we are able to get into dialogue; drivers were able to tell us where they had incidents; we could tell them where services were going to happen; we could put videos out.
"It was fantastic when we were so dispersed. That actually created a huge connection for everybody and a great sense of teamwork. It has been transformative for us."