A subsidy to help people pay the cost of working in remote hubs is under consideration as the Government explores ways to encourage their use amid average daily costs of between €15 and €20 per day.
Minister for Rural Development Heather Humphreys said on Monday the Government is looking at options to incentivise the use of hubs which offer office space and high quality broadband connections.
She was speaking at the Mill Hub in Drogheda, Co Louth as she launched an app called Connected Hubs which allows people to book a desk or meeting room at more than 200 such facilities across the country.
Ms Humphreys said the State has invested more than €100 million upgrading former banks, Garda stations and other disused buildings to convert them into remote working hubs.
The target is to have 400 hubs by 2025 but Ms Humphreys said she is confident this number will be reached “well in advance of that”.
She said: “If Covid-19 has taught us one thing, it’s that the benefits of remote working are huge” and she said the hubs will improve quality of life.
“People don’t want to end up spending hours in traffic. They want to spend more time with families and that’s what we want to do – give people a better quality of life and embrace remote working,” Ms Humphreys said.
She said the average cost for people using hubs is between €15 and €20 but some charge as little as €10 and booking for a whole week can also see lower costs.
Ms Humphreys encouraged people to talk to hub managers about their charges “because they are anxious to do business as well and get more people into their centres”.
She also said the Government is working on how their use can be incentivised. She said the State may “subsidise it initially” and suggested that could come in the form of a credit towards the cost.
She said her department has funding from Budget 2022 to provide an incentive. “It’s not going to be a huge amount, but it will certainly be a help.”
Ms Humphreys highlighted how people using hubs do not have costs such as heating their homes or travel to offices in cities, that there are advantages and “people have to weigh that up”.