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The Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, has today announced a number of major new initiatives that will support Remote Working across the country.

For the first time, workers will now be able to book office or desk space in their local hub through a new mobile app called Connected Hubs.

Minister Humphreys also announced €5 million in funding, through the Connected Hubs 2022 Call, which will be used to build capacity and improve existing Remote Working facilities.

These initiatives will be underpinned by a major new National Awareness Campaign, designed to promote the many benefits of choosing your local hub for your working day.  The Awareness Campaign will be ran by the Department of Rural and Community Development with the support of the Western Development Commission (WDC).

Minister Humphreys also revealed today that the number of Remote Working facilities on the Connected Hubs Network will exceed 200 this week.

Minister Humphreys in a Remote Working Hub

This represents over half of the 400 hubs pledged as part of Our Rural Future, the Government’s landmark rural development policy.

Announcing the series of initiatives at the Mill Enterprise Centre in Drogheda, Co Louth, Minister Humphreys said:

“If Covid-19 has taught us one thing – it’s that the benefits of Remote Working are huge.

“Less time spent commuting. A lower carbon footprint. More time spent with family and friends. But above all – a better quality of life.

“Over the past two years, we have embarked on a mission never seen before.

“Across Ireland, we have taken many old and derelict buildings and re-purposed them into state-of-art Remote Working facilities.

“Former banks, cinemas and garda stations, convents and train stations have become local digital hubs.

“They are now part of a new network called ‘Connected Hubs’ – which is at the forefront of our efforts to make Remote Working a reality for tens of thousands of workers.”

Minister Humphreys added:

Today represents the next chapter in our Remote Working journey. And it also demonstrates how we are putting ‘Our Rural Future’ into action.

“I’m really pleased today to launch a new mobile app which will enable workers to book their desk space in their local hub with ease.

“And to support our Connected Hubs network, which now has close to 200 facilities, I am announcing a €5 million funding package.

“This investment will significantly boost the capacity of our digital hubs, as well as making them more comfortable and accessible to the everyday worker. And it’s on top of the €8.8 million that I announced as part of the 2021 Connected Hubs call, which supported 117 remote working projects across the country. 

“So My message to remote workers today is clear: Whether you are in Donegal or Waterford, Louth or in Kerry, East Coast, Midlands or along the Border, we have a hub for you.”

Minister Humphreys announces series of major initiatives to support Remote Working

“As Minister, I know that remote working is not an option for every worker. But I also know that we cannot revert to the way of life pre-pandemic – the days where people commuted to work for hours each morning and again in the evening time.

 “But I also don’t believe working from home on a permanent basis suits everyone. That’s why our local hubs are so important.

“Over the coming weeks, my Department and the Western Development Commission will embark on a significant awareness campaign to highlight the benefits of working from your local hub.

 “We will not, and we should not, go back to the old normal. This is a once in a generation opportunity – and it’s one I’m not prepared to let slip.

Welcoming the announcement Tomás Ó Síocháin, CEO of the Western Development Commission said;

“I welcome the additional €5m in funding for connectedhubs and in particular the awareness raising campaign that has just been launched. The focus for the last two years in developing has been on supporting the Hub Managers in developing their hubs – the next step is to work with the hub users, identify their needs, as they find their work community on their doorstep.”