Kate Heaney, Donegal News
The founder of a Letterkenny software company believes more and more tech employees will return to places like Donegal to work remotely now that working from home has become the norm during the pandemic.
Paul McNulty, from Letterkenny, who founded Irish software company 3D Issue, which specialises in software for the digital publishing market, employs 20 staff who work a four day week, which helps attract local talent.
Speaking to the Donegal News this week, Paul explained that since the pandemic began last year they are having to compete with the capital’s Big Tech groups for new hires. Remote work has meant tech workers in regions such as Donegal have been able to apply for higher paying jobs with Twitter, Google and Microsoft – without having to relocate.
On the other side of that coin they are being joined in rural Ireland by some formerly Dublin-based tech employees who are escaping the Irish capital’s rising property prices.
It is a pattern the government is keen to accelerate having just unveiled a plan to encourage a shift of people from major cities to the rest of the country which includes creating a network of more than 400 remote working hubs and tax breaks for individuals and companies that support home working.
“I think this trend will continue especially for the likes of us who are from this area and those who want to move back here. We saw a sprinkling of this effect before the pandemic powered by the property crisis in Dublin. One guy who worked for us who went to work in Dublin for a big US company failed to get somewhere suitable to live in Dublin and eventually the company agreed he could work from Donegal and come to Dublin one day a week.”
“Our employees come into the office one day a week as remote working all of the time does not offer the huddle environment for problem solving. Individual screen talk does not have the same chemistry,” Paul said.
He does believe the working changes aided by improved technology and productivity tools will be a positive for Donegal. Property values in Dublin are falling while in Donegal and other rural areas they are rising.
“People are looking at changing life patterns. How valuable is that extra hour not spent commuting? We lived in New York before moving back to Donegal and knew we did not want to live in a city any more. Here I can leave work at 5pm and be home in ten minutes.”
“What we have now is the ability to attract positions that previously would only have been available in Dublin,” he added.
Featured in the Financial Times recently, they state that companies like 3D Issue is just one illustration of the complex interplay of post-pandemic factors that has left the world’s former office workers in a state of flux. In terms of where people may decide to end up in the long term, “we just don’t know yet”, says Lynda Gratton, a professor of management practice at London Business School. “Questions about ‘where I live,’ these are big bets.”