Interview with Frankie McSwiney of NoCo: South East well placed to capitalise on trend of establishing hybrid teams in the regions

The pandemic has brought about much discussion on the future of remote working. One lesser discussed aspect of remote working has been the trend towards the establishment of remote working hybrid teams. These teams are often based away from their main HQ and gain all the benefits of remote working in the regions such as better quality of life, affordability, and lesser commute times while maintaining the social and cultural benefits of working in a team environment. Companies gain from the arrangement by accessing new talent pools, reducing their real estate overheads, and contributing to their sustainability goals. To find out more about this trend, Ireland South East was delighted to sit down with Frankie McSwiney, founder of NoCo, a dedicated platform for remote working hubs.

Frankie, have we seen a shift in thinking during the pandemic to companies allowing second site teams, away from their main HQ, to be set up in the regions?

Yes, what we have seen is a number of our clients have given their teams access to closer-to-home workspaces across the regions as part of their hybrid model. This allows their teams to work in a local workspace on the days they are not in their HQ. We recently undertook a Talent Index survey and found that companies are adopting a 60:40 hybrid model where by both employee and employers want access to space as and when they need it so that way they are flexible in terms of where their staff work from when they are not in their offices. We see a range of requirements from clients with needs from one off desks to 8/10 person offices right across the country. 

What benefits do companies get from enabling second site teams?

A huge factor is the ability to attract talent from new talent pools across regions where they would have traditionally not had a physical presence. Some clients are also seeing a rise in productivity because their staff are no longer looking at lengthy commutes. This is not a one-size-fits-all solution and so a tailored approach is needed but it also helps to overcome some of the main challenges that people are reporting when working from home which is accessing good quality broadband, the lack of social interaction and the cultural side of work, and the increased utility costs associated with working from home. On a broader level the benefit also includes reduction in real estate overheads and also the reduction in carbon emissions. 

What benefits do employees get?

I think the overriding factor is the reduction in commuting and a better work-life balance. Employees are looking at how they can get the most from their days, and by not having to sit in their cars for 90 minutes every day they are getting valuable time back. While this happened pre-pandemic we are seeing an increase in people moving to the regions to have a better work-life balance and as a result are looking for more flexibility in their work arrangements. With more and more companies offering hybrid/remote roles there is a greater number of available job opportunities as proximity to the office is less important. 

Is the South East well placed to take advantage of this trend?

Our research found that 16% of Dublin commuters came from the South East region and so there is a huge amount of talent that are residing there. Over 80% of our respondents said that when considering employment opportunities they are more likely to consider a role that offers a closer-to-home workspace. We have also seen a huge number of  employers choose the South East as a region for their HQ such as Tegus, Zevas, Taxback, Glanbia, State Street to name a few. This coupled with the availability of top quality office space through the large number of remote working hubs that are operating in the South East makes the region a very attractive proposition for employers and employees alike.

You can check out all of the top quality remote working hubs in the South East here