Shaping the future of rural Wales: the potential role of remote working

July 2023 | Rural policy, Featured

person sitting front of laptop

The Centre for Cross Border Studies (CCBS) recently unveiled a report, authored by its Director, Dr. Anthony Soares, and commissioned by the Rural Community Network, exploring the public policy environment of Northern Ireland in relation to remote working. It offers an exploration into the strategic measures that can be implemented to maximise the benefits and potentials offered by remote working, particularly to enhance community welfare and societal benefits in rural regions of Northern Ireland.

Key findings and how it could benefit rural Wales

  1. Encouraging remote work: the report emphasises the benefits of remote working for rural communities. This could be particularly beneficial for rural Wales, as it may lead to improved job opportunities, increase labour-market participation rates, and could also contribute to the citizens’ wellbeing.
  2. Investment in digital infrastructure: high-speed broadband and digital skills provision have been identified as key priorities for enabling remote work. Rural Wales could also benefit from further such investment, as it would support both remote working and general digital inclusion.
  3. Remote work hubs: the report identifies the potential role of digital or remote working hubs. The creation of such hubs in rural Wales could provide dedicated workspaces, fostering a sense of community and facilitating the sharing of resources.
  4. Balanced regional development: the implementation of remote work practices could contribute to balanced regional economic development, which could particularly benefit regions in rural Wales.
  5. Environmental impact: Remote working can help in achieving carbon reduction and other environmental targets, as it can decrease commuting, which could be particularly beneficial for rural regions in Wales.
  6. Increased labour-market participation rates: remote working could potentially increase labour-market participation rates, including for women and those with disabilities. This could lead to a more diverse and inclusive workforce in rural Wales.

Having analysed the report, it is evident that the landscape of remote working in Northern Ireland offers a variety of strategic benefits, particularly for the welfare of rural communities. These efforts could catalyse a reduction in environmental impact and lead to increased labour-market participation rates.

While this report was centered on Northern Ireland, the insights it provides could be just as valuable when viewed through the lens of rural Wales. The findings draw a striking parallel between the two areas, suggesting that similar measures could potentially yield comparable benefits in Wales.

How the findings could be helpful for rural Wales:

  1. Stimulating the rural economy: by promoting remote work, rural Wales could attract a diverse range of professionals, which could stimulate the local economy and lead to more balanced regional development.
  2. Attracting investment: increased adoption of remote work could make rural Wales more attractive for investment in digital infrastructure like high-speed broadband, which in turn can support further growth.
  3. Promoting inclusion: remote work offers the opportunity for more people, including those with disabilities or other barriers to traditional employment, to participate in the labour market.
  4. Supporting sustainable development: remote work contributes to reduced carbon emissions and supports the achievement of environmental targets. This aligns with Wales’s strong commitment to sustainability and could strengthen its reputation as a green nation.
  5. Creation of remote working hubs: establishing remote working hubs in rural Wales could foster a sense of community, provide access to shared resources, and offer networking opportunities.
  6. Sharing of best practices: encouraging collaboration between different rural regions could lead to the sharing of best practices, benefiting rural communities across Wales.

In conclusion, the comprehensive exploration of remote working policies and their potential implications, as evidenced in the report, holds significant relevance for rural Wales. The potential of remote working as a catalyst for regional economic balance, environmental sustainability, and enhanced societal welfare is not only significant but also highly attainable. By fostering remote working hubs and promoting inclusive labour market practices for example, rural Wales could experience a transformative shift. The cross-border insights presented here serve as a potent reminder of the opportunities that remote working can unveil, ultimately paving the way for a future where rural communities are more connected, vibrant, and resilient.

You can access the full report, ‘The policy landscape for remote working and rural development in Northern Ireland: A comparative study’ on the CCBS website.

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