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Our Rural Future: A Rural Remote Worker’s Thoughts

April 15, 2021
Our Rural Future

At the end of March 2021, a new government initiative “Our Rural Future” was announced to help attract workers to rural communities by facilitating remote working. With the introduction of the Remote Working Strategy, employees will also have the legal right to request remote working. Minister for Rural Development Heather Humphreys and Taoiseach Micheál Martin are to introduce this worker-led model that was brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Government plan to significantly invest in infrastructure to enable more people to live and work in rural areas, including funding to turn vacant properties such as pubs into remote working hubs. The aim of this initiative is to bring back and retain skilled workers in rural areas and ensure people have career opportunities, not just in city hubs or where their employer is based.

I’ve been an advocate for remote working for quite some time, given the fact I’ve been working almost exclusively from home for nearly three years. I think the remote working plan is fantastic and can be of great benefit to so many. I remember Management explaining that I was a “trial run” for this and if it was successful, they would consider allowing others to do the same further down the line. Little did we all know how things would change in 2020 with the pandemic!

Like so many other people, I wasn’t a Dublin native, but needed to be there for employment and career reasons. My heart was in rural Ireland, where I grew up. So, when I got a chance to purchase a house closer to home, I had to approach the company and check if it was a real possibility. Thankfully, everything worked out and it’s been a successful spell. In fact, another employee Shane O’Neill has since joined the company and followed suit.

What does this new policy mean for businesses offering WFH going forward?

Businesses offering ‘Working From Home’ going forward will be an attractive proposition for potential employees. They will have the pick of the crop in terms of skills and talent without restricting themselves to people in a particular geo-location. Also, the retention rate will be quite high as employees are more likely to remain in a company that are accommodating and embrace their work-life balance.

Of course, not all employees will want to work from home on a full-time basis due to the value that an office environment provides, for example, the social aspect. However, if a hybrid option is there for employees to go to the office at their discretion, then it can only be a win for the company.

In terms of the onboarding process, companies will need to put an airtight structure in place. All companies will have to take a little risk with new hires in terms of trust, but they can also offer incentives to employees to ensure they have a daily routine, with collaboration and productivity. It’s also vital to ensure that all employees feel included and part of the collective team, even if they are working remotely. In terms of career progression opportunities, even while working remotely, employees can still do their job and so, opportunities should remain the same.

From a tech point of view, does this complicate a company’s digital transformation of WFH technology adoption plans?

Over the past 12 to 14 months, some companies have “cobbled” together a makeshift means of working from home for a lot of their employees. This would have been carried out in haste due to the pandemic and the restrictions we’ve experienced as a result. Remember, we were originally looking at a couple of weeks to flatten the curve! However, as time passed, everyone has realised we are in this for the long run.

Companies will need to sit down and plan their WFH strategy going forward – how they want to operate, how secure they want access to be, and how much they want to invest in doing so. Companies will be extending their IT network and must treat all devices the same as if they were connected to the office network. The majority of medium to large businesses were already on their digital transformation journey. However, the recent circumstances has opened the eyes of the remaining companies who will not want to be left behind. I’ve seen a lot of companies having to adapt & overcome this past year and transform how they do business just to stay afloat. Many companies that didn’t have an online presence have now adopted one. There will be plenty of other companies in need of help and guidance on their journey, and that’s where Enterprise Solutions will come in.

How can Enterprise Solutions assist with this transition?

Citrix Cloud can be a solid option for most businesses due to total data security, anytime anywhere accessibility, real-time collaboration, cost, and outsourced management of the platform.

Citrix can also be integrated with your Microsoft 365 services, as both technologies have had a close relationship for many years and complement each other nicely, plus Enterprise Solutions are also Microsoft Gold Partners, so we can happily advise.

Moving to the cloud can also be the answer to your disaster recovery needs, help you remain competitive in the modern business landscape, and provide the best experience possible for your employees and customers.

As someone who works remotely from a rural setting, how can the policy benefit businesses and/or people going forward?

I think it’s a fantastic idea, but I also think it will need careful planning, design, and implementation. It will be truly imperative to small towns and villages around the country that have been in the shadow of the cities for too long. This initiative will breathe new life into rural Ireland, making it a more attractive place to live, work and grow. It may also encourage companies that would have traditionally considered Dublin to be the business epicenter of Ireland to expand, and cast their net further afield, to open remote offices etc. The positivity it will bring will trickle down to the smaller family run businesses such as the public houses and restaurants. The knock-on effect will be huge, and it’s well overdue for rural Ireland.

However, working from home is not for everyone and it will bring its own challenges. It takes discipline and focus from an employee to work effectively from home, to manage their time and workload with the distractions that working from home can sometimes bring. It also requires a certain amount of trust from an employer. Therefore, employers will need to change their mindset to some extent and discard tired, traditional management methods & policies and overhaul how they run their business. Employers should understand that working remotely is basically extending their IT Network.

So, in conclusion:

I’ve benefitted greatly due to the type of business Enterprise Solutions is and the services we provide, as Shane and I are using all the services that we sell to customers daily. We are a continuous live demo of the IT infrastructure that we provide. All of ES staff has been doing the same for the past year with varying degrees of success. I foresee that Our Rural Future will breathe new life into rural Ireland and allow people to live, work and grow in their community.

Enterprise Solutions are the leading provider of Citrix services and support in Ireland and as Platinum Partners, we offer Citrix Support, Consultancy, and Services (24×7×365). Get in touch and we can help your business start your digital transformation journey. 

Get in touch with Derek for a free consultation.

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