‘It’s nearly rental utopia’: How a hybrid working future is changing the rental market

Lettings agency says workers are increasingly seeking part-time accommodation

Dublin scored highly on remote working infrastructure but fell down on accommodation costs in a new survey. Photograph: iStock

Dublin scored highly on remote working infrastructure but fell down on accommodation costs in a new survey. Photograph: iStock

 

People who are hoping to split their working week between home and office in the future are increasingly seeking to rent digs in Dublin and other major cities for two or three days a week, according to a lettings agency.

The agency, Get Digs, began three years ago to link homeowners and part-time tenants, usually students, but workers, too, seeking Monday to Friday accommodation.

The business contracted heavily following the outbreak of Covid-19 here early last year, but is now getting back to life with the approach of a new college year and lighter Covid restrictions.

Homeowners can earn up to €14,000 a year tax-free from letting a room, but the agency believes more owners may be interested in such arrangements if they had tenants for just two or three days a week.

A lot of companies aren’t back in the office yet but there are inklings that they will be soon and time in the office will change. At this stage a lot of [employees] are putting out feelers,” said the agency’s founder, Tony Campbell.

Prior to Covid-19, many commuters were travelling “crazy distances” by car or train every working day from Limerick, Kilkenny or elsewhere to Dublin, he told The Irish Times, so hybrid working may suit many of these workers.

The experience at Get Digs – whose online blog notes “hybrid working means hybrid renting” – is perhaps of scant surprise to a business world preparing to grapple with what working life might look like post-pandemic.

Last week, a survey of 75 global cities by the online housing platform Nestpick placed Dublin 32nd when it came to the ability to work remotely. The capital scored highly on remote working infrastructure but fell down on accommodation costs.

With thousands of employees in Ireland and elsewhere waiting to see where the ball lands post-pandemic, some of the world’s biggest corporate brands have already signalled their position.

Apple and Amazon attracted resistance from employees who they said would have to come back to the office – for three days a week in each instance.

Emerging pattern

A pattern appears to be emerging. Professional services firm KPMG has said it expects its 3,400 Irish staff to come to work in their offices for two to three days a week, while Deloitte and Grant Thornton have also said they intend to execute a hybrid working model. PwC told its 3,100 staff here they must work in their offices or client sites for two to three days a week.

Privy to the needs of long-distance commuters, however small a proportion of the overall office workforce in Ireland such workers are, Get Digs is something of a bellwether for what employees are expecting.

Mr Campbell’s business links the bespoke demands of workers (although students accounted for 85 per cent of their business pre-pandemic) to the potential income opportunities for homeowners.

“We also think that the homeowners will row in behind [the specific accommodation requests in question] because they want the free time at the weekends in particular,” he said. “It’s nearly rental utopia.”

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