NoCo Ireland’s largest workspace network provider has signed a partnership with NACEC, and this will see NoCo expand their network reach to over 350 remote working locations in Ireland. To tell us how this will benefit remote workers in Kerry, I had a chat with Brian Moran, founder of NoCo, and I started by asking him to tell us more about the company.
Well, we’ve been going about 2 years now, we have a pre and post-COVID story. Pre-COVID we were attempting to provide employers with a method of providing their staff with an alternative workspace and the driver behind that was we wanted to take people off the roads, from those long distance commutes, spending hours on a bus, train or car, and give them an opportunity to work closer to home. And the real motivation behind that was that everyone at the moment is trying to find a balance and better quality of life.
So then Covid hit and we slightly pivoted or expanded. The way things have panned out over the past 18 months, we’ve seen a huge drive in both employees and employers looking for alternative ways of working and how we fit in there. What we’re trying to do now is someone trying to ditch the commute, travelling into the city every day or someone trying to relocate, we’re working with employers of all sizes and providing them with an avenue to provide current staff or prospective staff with an alternative workspace. Naturally, employers are located predominately in population centres like Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway. But they’re all trying to attract talent that are out there, looking for new roles or trying to retain their own talent. So we’re working with them to look at their distribution of their employee network and find a closer to home workspace, whether on a full time of part time basis.
As you say there, companies needed to try and do this during COVID to retain their staff. Remote working had been growing in popularity, and we see in Kerry the huge potential and benefits it has for communities across the county. It must be something you’ve witnessed yourselves in the development of NoCo.
Myself and my business partner Frankie, our background is predominately around talent attraction. There are tow things that really sparked the concept of NoCo for us; one was the huge expansion of the flexible workspace industry as a whole and the massive growth of independent workspaces across the country. That was very obvious. Working close to the HR side of businesses, we saw that there was a big demand coming internally from employees was more flexible work practices and a more manageable setup to find that work-life balance. Those things we saw combining and the result for us was that companies are looking for new ways to attract and retain talent. This is a solution that will help these companies keep talent in their organisations and attract new talent in.
Even though there’s a huge growth in remote working in the past 5-10 years, it took an event like the pandemic for businesses to realise there’s no need to bring everyone into the office every day of the week. Obviously there are different needs per job and person. But the growth we saw in remote working and mix that with the catalyst that was the pandemic, there’s no need to bring everyone into the office all of the time, so hopefully we’ll see a big growth in alternative work practices for the next number of years.
You’ve been working with companies, you’ve been giving them access to workspaces for their employees in different locations, but NoCo has now signed a partnership with NACEC to expand your network even further and create more opportunities for companies to have their staff based around the country. Before we get into that, maybe you can tell us more about NACEC.
NACEC are a representative body that is looking to support and progress the community enterprise centres through lobbying for funding, putting quality frameworks in place, providing education or extra resources for these hubs to grow. The objective is to support and develop these hubs. Their work isn’t just to provide these networks but to support the community as a whole. In simple terms, the more people you have working closer to where they live, the more time they’re spending in their communities and the more involved they will be. It goes hand in hand, spending that time in the area and the economic development in the area over the next few years. Obviously we see that the government are after putting a sharp focus on the economic development of rural areas and that hub network. NACEC are doing their best to make sure these hubs are supported.
This network with NACEC, this is growing NoCo’s network of co-working locations, so NoCo members will have access to over 250 enterprise Ireland supported hubs throughout the country.
Exactly. It was a natural progression for us. Our original motivation for us was to reduce the amount of people spending a long time travelling to work. Where I’m from in Ashbourne in County Meath, it’s known as a commuter town and a huge portion of the population head for Dublin every day. And what we’re seeing now is with the pandemic, there are a lot more people spending more time in contributing to the economies in those areas. So the idea behind going further afield and providing more reach, it was a natural alignment between NoCo and NACEC. After our first couple of weeks, reaching out to independent workspaces, we had just shy of 100 spaces, and this deal with NACEC has meant that we can extend that to 350. It gives us a much broader reach, and employees and employers much more flexibility. We’re delighted to be supporting each other’s goals and achieve great things.
Are there many workspaces in the network in Kerry now?
There are quite a lot. Prior to NACEC, we were dealing with the guys in HQ in Tralee which was fantastic. There’s also a fantastic space as part of the NACEC network is the RDI hub in Killorglin. It’s an incredible space and fantastic mix of a really modern space and incredible scenery.
As the return to workplaces approaches, a lot of companies are looking at bringing staff back in again or alternative workspace options, I’m sure you’re positioning yourselves as the ideal partner for any company trying to sort out that workspace solution for staff?
At the end of the day, every employee at every company is going to have individual needs, and flexibility might look completely different from one person to another. What we’re trying to do is provide employers with the tools they need to provide that individualised workspace or flexible work practice. Feedback we’re getting from employers is that they’re not aware of where the workspaces are, they facilities available, the method of acquiring the workspaces (a large number of staff, invoices and contracts being managed on a monthly basis, etc). We’re trying to streamline that process and give them the tools they need to provide this flexibility.
And you’re seeing a good demand already?
We’re seeing a huge demand, and as I said, we were originally trying to reduce people’s commutes, we’ve seen a demand that we didn’t anticipate pre-pandemic which was a much wider distribution of workforces occurring. People would move within 35-45 minutes of a drive to a city centre, but now we’re seeing people moving to completely different sides of the county to their workplace. There’s a wide open demand now.
If businesses out there are interested in finding out more, how can they get more information?
Log into our website, noco.ie, we have a directory of our locations and plenty of ways of getting in touch with us.