14 Oct 2019 | 12.50 pm
New Hubs Facilitate Distributed Workforce
New Work Junction hubs enjoy buoyant demand
14 Oct 2019 | 12.50 pm
Managed hubs have advantages over the domestic setting as places where remote employees can do their work
Distributed workforces are the latest buzz in HR. Having a distributed workforce – people remote working from hubs – can make recruiting and retention of talent easier. This is especially true in Ireland, which has the most geographically dispersed population in the EU.
Many of the larger companies like Apple and Vodafone are ahead on this, retaining good staff by allowing them to work fully or partly remotely. Some US companies with no office in Ireland are also picking up a wide range of skills in Ireland by simply offering a package that includes a stipend for a desk at a hub. There are people all over Ireland now working for Shopify, Wayfare, Automattic, Expedia and others.
Tom O’Neill, founder of New Work Junction, believes that smaller Irish employers are losing out on new talent they could be recruiting. “These are people living in towns like Carlow, Kilkenny and Wexford who either can’t or don’t want to commute to Dublin, and have changed to employers who accommodate remote working,” says O’Neill.
New Work Junction, established in 2015, has offices catering to remote workers in Rathmines, Kilkenny, Carlow and Wexford. Pricing at the facilities is €125 per month for a two days a week hot desk, €155 p.m. for a 24/7 hot desk, €195 p.m. for a dedicated desk, and €450 p.m. for an office space. The various plan prices are subject to VAT. Broadband connectivity at the three hubs outside Dublin is provided by SIRO, the Vodafone/ESB joint venture.
“We see a growing trend with the professions of people remote working, including software engineers, process engineers, architects, project managers, quantity surveyors, tech writers, UX designers and accountants,” O’Neill adds.
Companies like Automattic started out with a remote workforce, so their remote work policies were thought through and in place from the get-go. Companies that introduce remote working have to develop flexibility policies to ensure that remote staff are being productive and are not being left out on the water-cooler conversations.
Give It A Trial
Alan Hickey, Associate Director of Advisory at HR consultancy Peninsula, notes that some employers may be hesitant to introduce flexible working arrangements that possibly pose a threat to existing business operations. Hickey suggests that approving a flexible working arrangement on a trial basis could be a potential solution, allowing both parties to see whether the request is a workable solution.
“The conditions and duration of any trial period should be set out in writing and employers should review the efficacy of the arrangement regularly,” says Hickey. “It is also advisable to detail the organisation’s approach to trial periods in any flexible working policy so that staff are aware of this opportunity from the outset.
“Once a trial period has ended, employers will be in much better position to decide whether to make this arrangement permanent. It would be wise to hold a meeting with the employee at this time to explain the decision. If the trial period has been a success, then the employer may go ahead and make the flexible working arrangement permanent, confirming this to the individual in writing.
“Utilising trial periods for flexible working requests can be invaluable for an employer. Trial periods allow the employer time to assess whether a flexible work arrangement is appropriate before deciding whether they can afford to make the change permanently.”
When remote working is being considered, employers worry that people won’t focus on work if they are at home. A solution that many of the fully distributed companies endorse is that the remote worker takes a desk at a suitable hub near their home.
“Not all co-working centres are suitable for remote workers,” says Tom O’Neill. “Some are very focussed on collaborative environments for startups, and some aim at large corporate overflows, and are very expensive. Some like ourselves are more geared for people who want to get on with their own work.”
Photo: Shared work space in New Work Junction hub