The publication of the Remote Work Strategy has laid the foundation for a more progressive, employee-centred workforce and community-focused society, a Fine Gael Senator has said.
Senator Emer Currie, Seanad spokesperson on Employment Affairs and Work Life Balance, said the new strategy acknowledges the learnings of the last year but also the potential for the future.
Senator Currie said: “It’s a big day for people that have been campaigning for remote and flexible work for a long time, like me.
“A commitment has been given to make remote working a permanent feature of how we work. There’s lots in the strategy – rights, building infrastructure around remote work that will benefit communities and the impact on participation in the labour force.
“All of these areas are hugely significant and there is a lot to build on within the strategy. It acknowledges the learnings of the last year – but also the potential for the future, including a lot of work already done.
“Getting it right will take work but this is a great starting point and it will help ensure remote, hybrid and flexible working arrangements are a much bigger part of life after Covid.
“It signals the potential move away from the one-size-fits-all approach to work, where people commute in and out of high employment centres and which only caters to a certain amount of the population, to having more choice, opportunities and balance for workers.
“There is huge potential for reimagining rural areas, suburbs and cities into mixed-purpose liveable communities with accessible co-working spaces and community childcare.
“We know the benefits – more flexibility, less commuting, more time for family and friends. It’s better for transport emissions, quality of life, and helps people live wherever they want, but it has to be done right, planned and led by a government strategy.
“Employment rights need to be updated and we need to give guidance to employers. The cultural transformation of companies is critical to ensure remote workers have equal opportunities. Remote work is about relieving inequality, not reinforcing it and that can be achieved with the right guidance and approach.
Senator Currie concluded: “For someone like me this is hugely significant. I left my job in a top advertising agency six years ago after the birth of my second child because as a family we struggled with the commutes, the childcare and what can be the wonderful chaos of family life. Access to remote work and flexibility would have prevented that.
“The move away from the one-size-fits-all approach will benefit people everywhere from Ballinasloe to Blanchardstown and the scale and depth of this strategy gives much hope that will happen. Thank you to An Tánaiste for recognising the impact remote work can make and taking the necessary steps to make it happen.”