'Hubs' to the fore as new remote working initiatives are announced
The role of remote working hubs could be about to become more prominent under new initiatives announced this week by Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys.
For the first time, workers will now be able to book office or desk space in their local hub through a new mobile app called Connected Hubs. Hubs had been off-limits for long periods during the Covid-19 pandemic and restrictions but are now seen as an alternative to working fully from home or fully returning to the office.
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Minister Humphreys also announced €5 million in funding, through the Connected Hubs 2022 Call, which will be used to build capacity and enhance existing Remote Working facilities.
The Minister for Rural and Community Development Heather Humphreys TD at the Mill Hub in Drogheda Photo: Julien Behal
These initiatives will be the subject of a major new National Awareness Campaign, designed to promote the many benefits of choosing your local hub for your working day.
Minister Humphreys also revealed that the number of Remote Working facilities on the Connected Hubs Network will exceed 200 this week. This represents over half of the 400 hubs pledged as part of the government's Our Rural Future policy.
Announcing the series of initiatives, Minister Humphreys said: “If COVID-19 has taught us one thing – it’s that the benefits of Remote Working are huge.
“Less time spent commuting. A lower carbon footprint. More time spent with family and friends. But above all – a better quality of life.
“Over the past two years, we have embarked on a mission never seen before. My Department has invested €100million in the development of remote working facilities in our towns and villages nationwide.
“Across Ireland, we have taken many old and derelict buildings and re-purposed them into state-of-the-art Remote Working facilities.
Ronan Whitty, Director of Business, Innovation & Enterprise At The Mill andThe Minister for Rural and Community Development Heather Humphreys TD at the Mill Hub in Drogheda Photo: Julien Behal
“Former banks, cinemas, garda stations, convents and train stations have become local digital hubs.
“In addition, we have provided funding to upgrade and enhance existing hub facilities.
“These are now part of a new network called ‘Connected Hubs’ – which is at the forefront of our efforts to make Remote Working a reality for tens of thousands of workers.”
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Minister Humphreys added: “Today represents the next chapter in our Remote Working journey. And it also demonstrates how we are putting ‘Our Rural Future’ into action.
“I’m really pleased to launch the new Connected Hubs mobile app which will enable workers to book their desk space in their local hub with ease.
“The number of hubs available on the Connected Hubs network will this week surpass the 200 mark meaning we are already halfway to our target of 400 hubs nationwide as committed under Our Rural Future.
“Today I am also launching a new €5million Connected Hubs Fund which will aimed at upgrading and increasing capacity in our existing hub facilities. In addition, over the coming weeks and months, I will be announcing further funding for the development of new remote working facilities as part of Our Rural Future.
“So my message to remote workers today is clear: Whether you are in Donegal or Waterford, Louth or in Kerry, East Coast, Midlands or along the Border, we have a hub for you.”
Minister Humphreys concluded: “Thankfully we are now beginning to return to normal life, but that does not mean we should go back to the old normal – the days of the long commute, sitting in traffic when you could be spending that time with your family and friends.
“Equally not everybody wants to or has the space to work from home permanently. The kitchen table or your bedroom is not a permanent solution. If you want a clear line of where work-life ends and family-life begins – then working from your local hub is the solution for you.
“Today, I am also specifically encouraging employers and businesses to look at the facilities available through Connected Hubs when developing their future plans for blended or hybrid working. These hubs can enable your staff to work in a safe, secure environment with high-speed broadband and all the necessary office equipment available to them.
“Over the coming weeks, my Department will embark on a major awareness campaign to highlight the benefits of Connected Hubs for both workers and employers”.
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