Will the remote working trend last?

The concept is very real in lockdown, but will it stick in a post-pandemic world?

We’re long in the tooth enough to know that sometimes trends, even mega-trends, things that we thought would uproot us, fade and fizzle out as quickly as they came.

Instead of being redefining moments, they become epoch-defining fads, attached to the back of sentences that begin with “imagine we all thought...” Which one is remote working?

Will we all be trundling in and out of our offices in a year’s time or will half of the country’s office space be redundant? The remote working trend is very real in lockdown, but in a post-pandemic world will it stick?

It has being latched on to by the rural lobby in Leinster House as potentially something that could halt rural depopulation and revitalise the ailing economies of villages and towns across the State.


The Government published a remote working strategy earlier this month, saying it would “lead by example”, setting a target whereby at least 20 per cent of public servants will be working remotely by the end of the year. Decentralisation mark two.

While the concept suits certain workers and perhaps those of a certain age, it’s not ideal for many and not enjoyed by many.

The other block is the home.

Some people don’t have the right space to work in. A recent report by estate agent Owen Reilly highlighted a near “collapse” in the short-term rental market in Dublin’s docklands, with couples shunning one-bed apartments because they had too little space to work in.

It noted that many foreign workers, particularly in the tech sector, had moved back home – to continental Europe and other places – for the duration of lockdown. Apartments, particularly one and two-bed units, aren't designed as domestic work stations.

And remember the trend in Dublin and elsewhere is for more apartments and less houses.

Equally, companies are fine with Zoom or Webex meetings as long as everyone is doing it. But what happens when someone breaks rank and starts meeting clients in person?

The point is, this trend has been foisted upon us in a crisis, but it runs counter to how we’ve been living for decades. There’s no reason to presume it will become as widespread as advocates are currently telling us.