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Brave Experiment To Offer Irish Companies Outsourced E-Working

by Jason Gorringe,, London

19 December 2002

A new Irish venture called Space2work is planning to open three high-tech e-work centres around Dublin in response to the growing difficulties faced by commuters travelling into the busy city. The firm will offer large employers space at the centres for workers based outside the city who otherwise face long delays in traffic to reach city centre offices.

Space2work director, Jonathan Dempsey, says the company plans to begin offering the service by the second quarter of 2003, and is conducting a survey of commuters to help define the facilities that will be in most demand and the preferred locations of the centres.

A recent conference in Kilkenny however heard that teleworking in Ireland has run into the buffers during the economic downturn. The conference addressed the issues that affect the realisation of the full potential that new technology-based work methods have for regional and business development and was hosted by Telework Ireland, the South-East Regional Authority through its SEISS project, and the Irish Internet Association.

The conference heard about a survey - eWorking in Ireland - conducted by the Market Research Bureau of Ireland on behalf of Enterprise Ireland and the eWork Action Forum. The survey showed that there was no growth in the numbers of people teleworking in Ireland the past year, and revealed persistent reluctance among Irish businesses to embrace e-working, despite the potential benefits.

Liam Breslin of Telework Ireland says that this is largely because employees feel less secure in their jobs at the moment, and therefore feel less able to approach employers about the possibility of exploring teleworking options. Other factors include the lack of confidence among current management in policies that will ensure a smooth transition to teleworking, as well as concerns about health and safety, insurance and even IT.

Breslin noted that the Space2Work scheme, which is based loosely on the idea of telecottages that originated in Scandinavia, could well succeed because the model is much more sophisticated than plain vanilla home-working. In addition, declining productivity and the deteriorating quality of life for employees is forcing the issue higher up the business agenda. "You only have look out the window at the traffic to know that it has the potential to work," he said in his Dublin office.

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