A visit to the RDI hub in Killorglin to spend a day remote working reveals that this could be the perfect option for many
I have just had coffee with an Italian IT worker who now lives in Cahersiveen, chatted to a Kerry woman who made the brave move from the capital back to Kerry and spoke to another who, having worked abroad and lived in Dublin, purchased a house in Caragh Lake and is working from a self-contained unit out the back of the house.
What are we all doing? We are visiting the RDI Hub in Killorglin, in a bid to use it as a base for remote working.
The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way we work forever. If you asked me two years ago ‘would I work from home?’, I would have said that would never be allowed.
I would have also said I couldn’t do it – a social butterfly like me would never survive without the office environment.
I was wrong on both counts and the past two years have transformed my working life, just like it has for workers across the county and country.
During lock-down, I discovered that I actually liked the solitude of working at home, much to the amusement of my superiors and colleagues – they know how much I love to talk – I also like the idea of dusting down my social skills and returning to the office.
Luckily, I have such an office to return to very close by but others are not so lucky. Many don’t live near their place of work or may not even have an office in this county or country.
That’s where remote working hubs come into play, they allow for the hybrid option many now want.
For months now I have badgered my boss to allow me to work in one of the many hubs across south Kerry, where I can visit family and still work from home. Just days after one such request, lo and behold an invite to an open day at the RDI hub arrived on our desks and now I find myself set up at a desk in the state-of-art facility writing this very article.
The Research, Development and Innovation Hub facility in Killorglin, a not-for-profit partnership between Fexco, the Munster Technological University, and Kerry County Council, goes far beyond a co-working or remote working space, it is a hub to develop businesses in the south-west of Ireland with not only the office space but also mentoring and the opportunity to connect with other businesses, allowing world-wide companies to thrive in Kerry.
For me it is an opportunity to see how a remote working hub operates but, for many who joined me on the open day, this was their opportunity to build business connections to help grow and steer their business in the right direction. A social connection comes in tandem with that.
The only word that comes to mind when you see such facilities is ‘wow’. I was struck by the sense of peace and calm, not what you expect in a busy business hub. You will get work done in this space.
It is the sense of calm that Mary O’Sullivan is attracted to. She works from home in business development and tele-sales for a number of clients, but though she loves her self-contained unit at her home in Caragh Lake, she wants to meet people.
Originally from Cahersiveen, Mary lived in Dublin for much of her life, as well in Dubai and Malaysia in more recent years, but she is happy to be back home in Kerry working.
“The minute you walk in here, there is professional, calm feeling, irrespective of all the technology. I am amazed.”
She said the RDI Hub is ideal to help make professional and social connections and for many of her clients based around the country access to such a facility could be of huge benefit. Developed by Fexco but home to 37 other businesses and a host of other individual company workers, the project aims to help grow businesses in Kerry.
It was summed up by one promoter on the day, “when you bring people together, you create magic”. Given the success of the hub and its tenants, you most certainly do.
Patch Corcoran is originally from Killorglin and when Covid hit, she and her wife, Jill, moved to Kerry to live with her mother.
“We knew restrictions were coming and we had to decide to face them here or in Dublin. The staff we had working were sent home and we decided to base ourselves in Kerry.”
And in Kerry they stayed and continued to grow their business Emotion Media, a digital media agency, providing digital content signage for hotels, universities and private companies. Their screens can be seen in hotel lobbies or in private companies providing staff with all sorts of information.
The pair work from a spare room in Patch’s brother’s house but the RDI hub may be a possible base for them, from time to time.
“It is nice to see other people and chat to them and get extra support.”
The RDI Hub facility prides itself on state-of-the art technology is at your finger tips. Event space, private offices, and desks are all dotted around so you can work privately or near to others and host meetings with colleagues around the world. The Reeks restaurant upstairs provides plenty of sustenance too.
But all I need is WiFi, good coffee and an opportunity to chat and make new friends and I have all that in the one place.
The government is often criticised for a lack of vision but their ongoing investment and support for hubs can only be a good thing – creating jobs and developing businesses while also reducing travel time and costs for many workers. This also helps ease the accommodation crisis in our cities while allowing our rural communities to grow.
One word of advice, though, for remote working make sure you bring all you need, especially a laptop charger or you won’t be able to get everything done.
I’ll remember to bring it next time!