The Irish government have made expressly clear their belief that remote working is here to stay, announcing a strategy based on ensuring the infrastructure, IT support services and policies are in place to ensure everyone can benefit.
The National Remote Work Strategy, announced by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, highlighted three key strategy areas that must be a key focus of how remote working will become a permanent fixture outside of the current circumstances.
Create An Effective Remote Working Environment
Many businesses have shifted and transitioned as much of their business as feasibly possible from offices to homes and other remote locations as part of government advice in many countries across the world.
The National Remote Work Strategy aims to ensure that the benefits that have come out of necessity can continue once the health crisis has ended.
The first step is ensuring access to remote work, and creating legislation to ensure all employees have the right to request remote working conditions if the job requirements allow.
What is also important, as our homes also become our workplaces is the right to disconnect and disengage from work during non-work hours, an increasing issue as mobile phones and cloud systems have been adapted in the workplace.
Ireland would be following the lead of France (which has had “right-to-disconnect” protections since 2001) and Italy (Since 2017), both countries of which have right-to-disconnect laws.
As well as this, the first pillar policies also ensure that sufficient and up-to-date guidance is available for both employees and employers of their rights to remote working and also how it can be effectively installed and set up.
In terms of specific changes to the public sector, the Irish government is set to mandate that 20 per cent of employees who work either in the public sector, for public bodies or colleges, will work remotely or from home.
The second pillar is based on investment in remote work infrastructure. Many businesses have quickly adopted or expanded on existing remote working systems that they have access to.
However, greater investment is needed to ensure that everyone can take advantage of this, particularly in rural areas which traditionally see internet access and other vital parts of remote network infrastructure neglected.
As a result, investing in remote working hubs (which enable less advantaged employees to have access to a more comprehensive workspace), as well as analysing how these hubs can be best used and highlighted is important.
Policy And Guidance
The final pillar is less about concrete proposals and more about the measurement of how remote working is taken up to ensure that future policies have the correct focus.
As well as this, it is important to encourage and promote remote working as an inherently beneficial working practice, as opposed to a necessity. This includes ensuring that comprehensive training is available to develop the skills needed to work effectively from home.
This also includes advising businesses on the best practices to ensuring that remote and office-based workers are provided equal opportunities to succeed and thrive in the workplace.