Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, has announced a series of new initiatives that will make remote working more accessible and attractive for thousands of people.
Minister Humphreys also announced €5 million in funding, through the Connected Hubs 2022 Call, which will be used to build capacity and enhance existing Remote Working facilities.
Some 81 projects across the country were successful in securing funding including a number in County Roscommon.
Locally, Minister of State Frank Feighan TD has warmly welcomed funding for several projects in the county totaling €190,716. They include funding of €57,498 for the Spool Factory in Boyle. The monies, along with operator funding, will be used to lower the carbon footprint of the Hub to include new solar panels, EV charging points, installing automated access technology that will allow easy access to users working in any market/any time zone across the world, installation of a defibrillator and external lighting. According to Minister Feighan: “Over the past year, the Spool Factory has significantly upgraded its core facilities of hot desking, to now incorporate own door offices on the ground floor (previously undeveloped) and 3 own door offices on the 1st floor, which is the primary ‘hot-desk’ space. This latest grant, along with operator funding, will assist in providing a more modern facility for remote workers in Boyle”.
Meanwhile Tulsk Digi Hub is set to receive €38,493 for further office modernisation and wheelchair accessibility while Roscommon Co Council will receive €58,636 to assist to develop and expand remote working capacity in 5 BCPs and Community Centre’s throughout County Roscommon. These facilities are located in Creeve, Cam, Kilmurray, Tisara and Tawnytaskin. This proposal will install energy efficiency and heating upgrades, IT upgrades. external signage and defibrillators.
Finally, Gorthaganny Resource Centre is set to receive €36,358. The funding will be used to upgrade existing office, to include painting work space enhancement and provision of window blinds. A second room will be refurbished to include raising of floor, new floor covering, external door, painting and wall and ceiling insulation. Access system will be installed. An outdoor room for meetings and training is also planned. An upgrade of existing kitchen to include insulation of ceiling and wall, wall tiling, painting and floor covering. Provision of external signage. The group will provide an extra access point in their new office and require a firewall and switch to connect to the Vodafone system.
“I wish to again acknowledge the great commitment to Roscommon of Minister Humphreys with this significant announcement for local hubs. The government and in particular Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Leo Varadkar is anxious to do whatever is possible to promote the idea of ‘remote working’ both through legislation and government spending which we all hope will allow people to work more from the regions and address the need for many to live and commute from their east coast base” concluded Minister Feighan.
Minister Humphreys has also launched the Connected Hubs Voucher Scheme – which will give remote workers free use of their local remote hub. At least 10,000 hot desk spaces will be provided under the Scheme, which is aimed at both existing hub users, as well as those accessing hub facilities for the first time.
On top of these two initiatives, Minister Humphreys also announced the provision of €50,000 in funding to each Local Authority under the Town and Village Renewal Scheme. This will allow them to fund marketing campaigns and promote the remote working opportunities available in their areas.
Minister Humphreys also revealed that the number of Remote Working facilities on the Connected Hubs Network has now reached 242. This represents over 60 per cent of the 400 hubs pledged as part of Our Rural Future, the Government’s landmark five-year rural development policy.
Announcing the three initiatives at the Creative Spark Digital Hub in Dundalk, Ministers Humphreys said:
“As Minister for Rural and Community Development, I am serious about ensuring we don’t simply revert to the ‘old normal’ – the way of life we had before Covid-19.
“When I meet remote workers across the country, they tell me all about the benefits of spending a few days each week working from a digital hub in their local community”.
“They talk about how their lives are improved now that they don’t have to embark on that early morning, grueling commute to Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway or other urban centres”.
“Remote Working has been a game-changer for thousands of people. It’s given people of all ages a better quality of life – allowing them to spend more time with their family friends, working within their local town or village”.
“I am absolutely delighted to announce a series of new measures that represent the next chapter in our Remote Working journey”.
Minister Humphreys continued: “The Connected Hubs Voucher scheme I am announcing will provide at least 10,000 free days at hot desks in hubs across the country”.
“It will be available to existing hub users who are already enjoy the benefits of working from a hub in their local area”.
“But it is aimed at new users too. For example, I believe this scheme will appeal to someone who has never worked for their local hub – now they can try it out for the first time for free”.
“This scheme is based on the ‘voucher follows the person’ approach and will initially provide three days of hub use per person between now and the end of August”.
“So for people who may wish to holiday at home this summer, this scheme is ideal if you need to do a couple of days working in facilities that are comfortable and underpinned by good quality broadband”.
“I would strongly encourage potential new hub users and those thinking of a working staycation to set up a connectedhubs.ie profile”.
“We will be applying vouchers to all registered users in the coming weeks, so get registered now.”
Minister Humphreys also announced the results of the Connected Hubs Call 2022, a €5M fund which will be used to build capacity and enhance existing remote working facilities.
The funding will benefit 81 projects and will support a wide range of works, including the expansion of existing hubs, installation of privacy booths, access control and security systems, the conversion of existing open plan space to modular offices, and provision of podcast studios, enhanced audio visual, networking and conferencing facilities.
Minister Humphreys continued: “The Connected Hubs Call 2022 will see €5 million provided to support our existing hubs. This is on top of the almost €9 million I awarded to applicants in 2021″.
“This scheme is designed to add remote working capacity at hubs and Broadband Connection Points (BCPs) across the country, to make more space for remote workers and to improve the quality of the facilities and their services.
“The quality of the successful applications was very high this year and I was delighted by the level of interest. It is clear that there is a huge amount of creativity and ambition among hubs and BCPs, something I see myself on a regular basis as I visit these wonderful facilities regularly” concluded Minister Humphreys.