Case Study: Dublin Estate Agents Embrace Virtual Offices

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A recent survey conducted in June this year by the National University of Ireland Galway, found that 83% of people currently working from home, would like to continue to do so.

This has been a continuing trend and even before the Covid-19 crisis, many employers in Ireland were looking into remote working and flexible workspaces.   Obviously this will not suit some employers and workplaces, however companies involved in technology, financial services, even estate agents.

Yes, estate agents.  Think about it.  I recently spoke to an estate agent in Ranelagh, Dublin 6.  Martin has 17 staff working from ground floor and first floor offices, with an annual rent of €65,000 per year, plus all the associated costs – rates, utilities, service charges. 

Parking is also a considerable problem for a dozen staff.  The business spent €14,947 in parking spaces and on street parking in 2019.  During the Covid crisis, Martin, decided to close the premises in Ranelagh (not the business) and moved all staff to remote working.  He signed up to flexible workspace services in south and northside Dublin, including virtual office services including business address and call answering service.

Working from home, staff still schedule viewings, make appointments, calls are still answered, accounts are still done, meetings are still held (virtually).   He also stated, “to move to remote working, a business needs to invest in decent technology such as accounting software, security, booking systems”.    Martin also stated, “There is nothing we can’t do remote working, that we did from our old office”.

The other aspect to this business embracing remote working, is that 17 staff do not have to commute to work, which reduces congestion on the roads, loss of productivity and which is overall good for the environment.

Martin, continues “I’m don’t know why we didn’t move to remote working earlier, but the Covid crisis fast tracked this”.  “We are now saving €100,000 per year, by shifting from the ‘traditional’ office to a more flexible and virtual office”.

Has the traditional office’s popularity already passed its peak?  Absolutely it has: With commercial rents in Dublin near all time highs and financial pressures on business along with recession threats of Covid, companies are seeking smaller, more flexible and cheaper office space.

Not only is remote working possible for Estate Agents, it is possible for lots of business. Even the Government is pushing for increased remote working. In July, Leo Varadkar, the new Business Minister, appeared to be pushing for employee and employers to embrace remote working by launching a public consultation on updating guidelines for remote working. The Department of Business wants both employers and employees to share their thoughts on how the Guidance for Working Remotely document can be updated.

Minister Varadkar added “Covid-19 disrupted our working lives and threw many of us into working from home or remotely for the very first time,” Varadkar said. “We learned quickly what was possible by using modern technology”. “It’s been an accelerator of change that was coming and while we all want to be free to return to our workplaces, we don’t want to go back to things exactly as they were. The Government wants remote working and home working to become part of the new normal.

In Dublin, the pressures of the residential property market, commuting and city congestion along with the changing balance between work and home life will reshape the city in the coming years.  As flexible workspace is embraced, more and more people working from home and choosing flexibility, the future of the office is virtual, flexible and remote.