Oireachtas committee sees Gorey’s potential for remote working
On Wednesday, March 27, the Joint Committee on Rural and Community Development visited the Hatch Lab at the M11 Business Campus in Gorey, to gather views and opinions around the potential Wexford has for professionals to work remotely.
The visit was part of a tour of the South East to explore the potential that the commuting workforce of more rural communities has to attract investment from large national and international companies to do business here instead, rather than in clustered cities like Dublin.
This was an important visit as in 2018 job vacancies in Ireland were up by 10% – and yet there are 79 black spots of unemployment in rural Ireland. There is a talent shortage in Dublin, forcing up salaries and unemployment there is at its lowest in 10 years. In fact, in 2017 Dublin Chamber confirmed 42% of Ireland’s total workforce was employed in Dublin and across the nation each day 1.9 million people were commuting for work (increased by 10% since 2011).
Discussions began with a presentation by 0ur very own Vanessa Tierney (Abodoo CEO). Vanessa highlighted the key challenges that rural Ireland faces in competing with cities but also emphasized the solutions and criteria required to tackle the challenge. She believes that in order to capture the talent here, policymakers must work toward aiding remote work solutions and present the rural lifestyle as an attractive option, both socially and financially to the commuting workforce and their employers. If this is something that could be achieved, Abodoo sees this enriching peoples’ lives, as well as rural communities and the planet. Vanessa explained that ‘the appetite to want to live and work in Gorey is very high’ and that this doesn’t have to just be promoted in Ireland, but encouraging those who have left Ireland to come home and work remotely in rural areas.
Abodoo launched from the Hatch Lab in Gorey in September 2017, and it recently conducted a Wexford orientated data spread in the form of a talent heat map, which was commissioned by Wexford County Council and presented to the Oireachtas Committee.
The results of the heat map showed that a large number of workers in industries such as the financial services, computing, customer services, administration, and marketing, who are currently based within a one hour drive of Wexford, would be willing to relocate to Wexford if flexible remote working opportunities were available. Over 2,000 people responded and the heat map concluded that the average business can save more than €11,000 per employee on average when they work remotely as a result of reduced expenses such as city rentals, employee parking, sickness, and absence. It also revealed that employees’ would be willing to take a cut from their average salary expectations with the promise of a better work-life balance.
The co-founders of Abodoo, Vanessa and her husband Ben Wainwright, suggested to the committee that a national heat map is conducted each quarter and that the data then be presented to companies nationally, as well as to the IDA wishing to attract new investment to Ireland.
Following the meeting, the Oireachtas Committee will file a report on this while looking into the future of work. Joe Carey TD hopes that the findings on remote working will ‘give an opportunity to rural regions to compete with Dublin’. Senator Grace O’Sullivan added that hearing the presentation instilled ‘a sense of confidence in terms of the future, and resilience in communities’. She said that keeping people living locally is ‘Without a doubt the way to go in terms of reducing transport-related carbon emissions’.