The first National Remote Work Strategy sets out on how people can work remotely from the office. Photo: Visuals/Unsplash

Government publishes new remote working report

Plans are on the cards to make remote working a permanent option for employees after Covid-19.

The country’s first National Remote Work Strategy to make remote working a permanent option for life after the pandemic was published recently and includes new rules to allow employees the right to disconnect and to request remote working. The strategy sets out plans to strengthen the rights and responsibilities of employers and employees, to provide the infrastructure to work remotely, and sets out clear guidance on how people can be empowered to work remotely from the office.

The Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar published the strategy last Friday.

He said: “The pandemic has exacted a terrible toll on life and livelihoods in Ireland. We all hope and pray for the day when it will be over, not so we can go back to the old normal but rather so we can have a new and better normal incorporating all that we have learned from living our lives and doing business in a very different way.

“The requirement to work from home where possible has demonstrated how viable home, remote and blended working can be. Post-pandemic, I want remote working to be part of a whole new world of work and this new Government strategy sets out how we will enable it.

“Working from home has become the norm for many in 2020. We want remote, blended and flexible working arrangements a much bigger part of life after Covid. We’ve seen that there can be huge benefits – more flexibility, less commuting, more time for family and friends.

“It’s better for the transport emissions, and for quality of life, but it has to be done right. Employment rights need to be updated, we need to give guidance, and in many cases, we need to provide actual physical working space. It also requires a cultural shift in favour of facilitating it as an option. This plan shows how we will bring all those parts together. I think it will make a real difference to people’s working lives.”

The strategy was developed under the guidance of a broad interdepartmental group consisting of government departments and state agencies. The research for the strategy draws from the findings of the 2019 Remote Work in Ireland report, the results of the Public Consultation on Remote Work Guidance, and new research carried out on the topic in 2020.

An Tánaiste added: “Many people will want to continue on to do at least some remote working after the pandemic, and it’s really important that we protect the rights and entitlements of those workers so that they can still switch off from work. That is why we have included the right to disconnect piece. We want to put in place the structures which ensure we take advantage of the benefits of remote working and protect against the downsides.”