One CEO says the new hybrid model approach to work means a city and rural lifestyle can co-exist.
Grainne O'Keeffe was speaking to Newstalk reporter Josh Crosbie as part of Reimagining Ireland: a series examining some of the changes people would like to see across a range of areas in a post-pandemic Ireland.
Grainne is CEO of the Ludgate Hub in Skibbereen, Co Cork - which opened back in 2016 and could accommodate up to 75 people pre-COVID.
She told The Hard Shoulder: "We will fully expect to be at full capacity again.
"What we saw last summer was - because the schools had closed, parents were working from home - the need to be approximate to the school wasn't there.
"So those people who are originally from west Cork, or who might have holiday homes down here, were coming down here for an extended period.
"We were available to them... for a summer service, we are seeing a lot of that traffic that will come back this summer - and some of them have actually made the decision to stay."
'Revolution not evolution'
Grainne said the changes have come at a very fast pace.
"This new hybrid model, which is now acceptable - it wasn't always acceptable - is really encouraging.
"I think when we hear of Government targets, to allow 20% of the public sector to do that as well, this is a revolution not an evolution.
"Once we were able to demonstrate that there was a value proposition in this, and that it was worthy of replicating, I think the Government then were in a position to say 'Actually, there's a lot of sense in this model - why don't we try and replicate it in Galway or Kerry and whatnot'.
"Now there are plans to have over 400 hubs".
But she said this does not mean the end of large office spaces in cities.
"I think there's room for everybody - we know that city centres had reached capacity.
"On so many parameters, the model was crumbling.
"And I think this new model allows for a city lifestyle and a rural lifestyle - it's not either/or.
"We are not mutually exclusive, we should be compatible."
Whether it’s the home office or a hybrid setup, work structures are changing and rural Ireland is benefiting.
Hear from Ireland’s first rural digital hub @LudgateIreland and @SkibbereenIRL on the @TheHardShoulder as part of @NewstalkFM Reimagining Ireland series before 5pm. pic.twitter.com/rQMafYlZtj
— Josh Crosbie (@JoshCrosbie3) April 16, 2021
Damien Long, CEO Travelmaster Ireland, said the hub is the best thing to happen to the town.
"Originally I was very scared of selling online, I didn't know enough about it.
"And Ludgate actually held an event in town and I went to it.
"I was saying to them 'I'd love to use technology in the transport business' - they said 'Call down next week, we'll have a chat with you and introduce you to a few people'.
"And from thereon in, it was brilliant - only for them I would not be where I am today.
"Turned around over €1m in seat sales last year going to concerts, from nothing.
"It's the best thing that's ever happened to Skibbereen town, hand on my heart it is".
Damien said using the shared space means you get more work done than being at home.
"When you come in here you get work done, and everyone's working around you - you can see everyone is driven.
"This is a great place for start-ups...because everybody wants to see you succeed.
"I think Ludgate in Skibbereen is where start-ups are going to be, I think this is the new Silicon Valley for Ireland".