Back in September of 2021 following the worst of the pandemic outbreak, four of Ireland’s top employers formed a ‘remote working alliance’. The idea here was that Vodafone, the ESB, eBay, and Liberty Insurance committed to help facilitate long-term remote working options for their staff. It was groundbreaking stuff and helped significantly with the push to promote remote working throughout the country.
It’s been 18 months since that announcement and while the people at companies such as Grow Remote are working as hard as ever to help facilitate remote working environments, we thought it was time to take a look at the IT sector in particular. In other words, as the title suggests, is working remotely in an IT job in Ireland an option?
To answer that question, we need to take a look at a few aspects of remote working and how it is facilitated.
What is the government’s stance?
The good news is that new legislation has just been passed by the two Houses of the Oireachtas. After an initial ‘Right to Request Remote Working Bill’ met fierce opposition from both employers and trade unions, this new legislation was merged with the ‘Work Life Balance Bill’ in a bid to assuage the fears of employers and unions.
Trade unions felt that the grounds for refusal in the initial bill were too broad and that it gave employers too much power over their employees. Employers, on the other hand, felt that the bill would see an increase in administrative costs as more and more employees sought remote working options.
The new bill, however, removes many of the grounds for refusal and instead introduces a more flexible code of practice for employers. This would see both the employer and employee’s needs taken into consideration before a final decision as opposed to the ‘yes or no’ approach of the previous bill.
If an employee feels that their request for remote working options is not being treated fairly by their employer, their complaint can be brought to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).
The new code of practice has yet to be published but with trade unions and the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission involved in the drafting process, it will surely be a fair code.
What this means for those working in IT jobs in Ireland is that there will now be a government mandated process for dealing with all remote working requests. In other words, if the duties of your new role in the IT sector can be carried out remotely, there’s a very good chance that your employer may agree to it. Or at the very least, allow you to work from home or remotely for a portion of your working week.
Is the infrastructure there?
There is no simple answer to this question. It’s more of an ‘it depends’ type of situation. The government has implemented the National Broadband Plan with the goal of bringing high-speed internet to at least 23% of the country’s population. This will bring broadband to many rural and remote areas and according to NBI, the majority of the rollout plan will be complete in the next 5-7 years.
This is great news for people who live in remote areas but not necessarily as good as one might think. There are still some areas which the NBI may not access or that it won’t plan to get to for some years to come. For people living in those areas, the answer is working hubs.
However, while remote working hubs are quite prevalent across populated regions in the country, there’s a scarcity of solid options in remote areas. Again, this is partly due to the lack of broadband infrastructure in some of those areas. What this means is that people who live in remote areas with no broadband access and who want to work remotely may have to commute to a shared working hub. Driving for an hour to get to your remote working hub may seem to take much of the gloss off working remotely. However, this may still be an attractive or preferable option for people who work for companies based in Dublin. As the Dublin property market can be quite competitive at the best of times, we can certainly understand the appeal of a long commute to the hub.
Of course, the situation may improve in the coming years, but that may not be enough for someone looking for a role right now.
What about employers?
As noted earlier, the Remote Working Alliance has done some great work in pushing the ‘work from home’ envelope.
While none of those employers could be considered a credible challenger to the traditional market leaders in IT, the impact of their stance on remote work is still quite significant. The very fact that major employers are now embracing remote work has given employees and candidates reason to review their thoughts on the matter. For many years it was thought that remote work was a pipe dream and something you couldn’t really ask of your employer. But one of the things that we learned from the pandemic is that remote work does actually work. In fact, it works very well.
This has led to more candidates requesting partial remote working capabilities once they move to new roles. And with the market being candidate-driven right now, employers are also shifting their approach. After all, if they want the best talent, then they simply have to give that talent the type of work life balance that they require.
So is working remotely in IT jobs in Ireland a possibility?
The simple answer is that yes, it is certainly possible. Whether you can get an employer on board with it or not depends a great deal on the type of role and how teams within the company usually work. However, the newly passed legislation now means that if you want to work remotely in an IT job in Ireland you now have the right to request it. Your employer, no matter how long you have worked for them, is now legally obligated to take your request under consideration. Not only that but you also have an avenue for appeals should you feel that you are being unfairly treated.
All of this, and the fact that Dublin is a major tech hub, points to Ireland being a truly progressive working environment for those in the IT sector.
If you’re interested in working in the IT sector here in Ireland, then get in touch with Software Placements. We’ve helped professionals from both Ireland and abroad take the next step in their career and would love to have a chat with you about your goals for the future.