Denis Naughten TD has warmly welcomed the publication of the Government’s Remote Working Strategy but has warned it is doomed to failure unless there is a more open attitude to innovation within the public service.
“I believe that blended working, involving remote hubs both within the public service and in society as a whole, will be key to the uptake of a remote working culture that is sustainable in the long term,” explained Denis Naughten.
“It is important to understand that working from home may be suitable for some but for many working in isolation can bring its own challenges. However, public service remote work hubs and similar remote work hubs across communities can help to provide a more blended approach and allow people to work closer to home and their own community.
“Working with public servants across other Government Departments and agencies will lead to the development of innovative solutions that can drive the type of change in our civil service that could transform the way we deliver services. However, this can only happen with an open mind to such change by management.
“During my term in Government the opposition to the innovative solutions for the betterment of society and our economy was hugely frustrating and while Covid-19 has thankfully changed this approach, unless this is openly supported right across Government I feel we could fall back into our old thinking.”
He pointed out: “For example, there is no reason why we cannot move the vast majority of Government application processes away from paper to online only. This approach would be supplemented with the local Post Office providing an offline alternative for those who are not IT literate, as already agreed by Government.
“Such innovation would allow many more public servants to work remotely and more efficiently, but sadly this has been blocked at every turn resulting in a significant threat hanging over the future of many of our smaller post offices.
“All of this can only be brought about with targeted investment in digital infrastructure in our regions, be it digital hubs in communities or the public sector, as well as expediting the delivery of broadband infrastructure.
“As I pointed out on many occasions during the National Broadband Plan process, this project was never about bringing a cable to people’s homes, or providing access to Netflix, it was about transforming our society just like rural electrification did.
“While there was a significant time lag between the delivery of electricity and use of that new resource at the time, I believe that Covid-19 has ensured that this lag will not happen with the uptake of broadband, which will lead to a knock-on reduction in the cost of its delivery.
“However, the current funding profile for the project as approved as part of Budget 2021 is the very same as the one that I signed off as Minister for Communications so it is imperative these savings are now frontloaded into the project to expedite its delivery over a shorter time period. This is not only feasible but can help to stimulate employment in our regions both directly and indirectly,” concluded Denis Naughten.
Denis Naughten seeks tax supports for employers promoting remote or blended working: