Our Rural Future: Connected Hubs App and Funding Call among some major initiatives announced to support Remote Working
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 enhance 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 run by the Department of Rural and Community Development with the support of the Western Development Commission (WDC).
The news is welcome to the 12 hubs and 6 in construction scattered across Donegal, with the app becoming a key driver for remote working, hot-desking and conference room bookings within the hubs. The news also comes after Donegal County Council launched it's Remote Working for Business Strategy last year.
Minister Humphreys also revealed today that the number of Remote Working facilities on the Connected Hubs Network will exceed 200 this week. 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. My Department has invested €100million in the development of remote working facilities in our towns and villages nationwide. Across Ireland, we have taken many old and derelict buildings and re-purposed them into state-of-the-art Remote Working facilities. Former banks, cinemas, garda stations, convents and train stations have become local digital hubs. In addition, we have provided funding to upgrade and enhance existing hub facilities. These 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 to launch the new Connected Hubs mobile app which will enable workers to book their desk space in their local hub with ease. The number of hubs available on the Connected Hubs network will this week surpass the 200 mark meaning we are already halfway to our target of 400 hubs nationwide as committed under Our Rural Future. Today I am also launching a new €5million Connected Hubs Fund which will aimed at upgrading and increasing capacity in our existing hub facilities. In addition, over the coming weeks and months, I will be announcing further funding for the development of new remote working facilities as part of Our Rural Future. 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.”
The launch of the connected hubs mobile app will allow users to find their nearest hub facility and easily book a desk space using their mobile device. The Connected Hubs mobile app can be downloaded from the Apple App Store for iOS devices and the Google Play Store for Android.
€5million Connected Hubs Call 2022
Today, Minister Humphreys also announced a funding call for the Connected Hubs. The primary objective of the Call, which is funded by the Department of Rural and Community Development, is to support and complement the development of the National Hub Network, which is a key action of the Rural Development Policy - Our Rural Future and also the National Remote Working Strategy – Making Remote Work. The Connected Hubs Call 2022 aims to add additional capacity to the existing remote working infrastructure in Ireland by upgrading existing hubs and Broadband Connection Points (BCPs). This funding is in addition to €8.8million provided for 117 remote working projects across the country in 2021.