Feature Article
Welcome to This Week's Issue | Sponsored by PwC

Dear ,

 

We are delighted to bring you this update on our advocacy agenda and recent policy developments affecting businesses. As the summer season draws to a close, Dublin Chamber is redoubling its lobbying efforts to ensure that the voice of business is heard in the new Dáil term.

 

The Housing for All plan announced by Minister Darragh O’Brien last week is a welcome sign that the Government is heeding our concerns about the impact of the housing shortage on competitiveness and quality of life in the Greater Dublin Area. Increased funding for affordable housing development and brownfield regeneration, and the commitment to land value sharing to dampen speculation, are particularly notable, but more detail is needed on how the plan will be implemented. That is why this week we released a new paper promoting a range of reforms to the planning system, which you can read more about below.

 

Businesses across Dublin are now looking forward to the scheduled relaxations of public health restrictions and to a return to the office in the coming months. The Government’s reopening plan promises that attendance at work for specific business requirements may commence on a phased and staggered attendance basis from 20th September. But the way that businesses reopen their premises will have a major impact on work practices, business costs, commuter patterns, urban footfall, and the atmosphere of our capital city.

 

Considerable uncertainty faces firms looking to develop their plans for a return to the office. We are seeking your feedback through our Q3 Business Reopening Survey in order to inform our lobby with Government on the issue. I encourage you to check your inbox and take 3 minutes to fill it out. Hospitality and retail businesses in the city centre have been amongst the worst hit by Covid, as demand plummeted. On 24th September, we will be holding a focus group on the future of the Dublin city centre economy post-Covid. If you are interested in participating to share your views, please contact carol@dublinchamber.ie.

 

You can read more about Covid-19 supports and other policy developments below. As always, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with your feedback or concerns by contacting policy@dublinchamber.ie.

 

Regards,

 

Aebhric Mc Gibney

Director of Public & International Affairs


Preparing your Workplace for Hybrid Working: 4 Key Actions
 

Government has now set down the plan for the return to the workplace. The future world of work may take many forms including a hybrid model where employees return to their workplaces say 2 to 3 days per week and work remotely the rest of the week. The success of hybrid working when we return to the office will be highly dependent on how clearly the purpose of the office is understood, defined and embraced.

 

PwC has developed the '4Rs' (Remember, Rebuild, Redefine, Reimagine) to define the purpose of your future office.


Preparing your Workplace for Hybrid Working: 4 Key Actions

 

By Ciara Fallon, Director, People & Organisation, PwC

Government has now set down the plan for the return to the workplace. The future world of work may take many forms including a hybrid model where employees return to their workplaces say 2 to 3 days per week and work remotely the rest of the week.  The success of hybrid working when we return to the office will be highly dependent on how clearly the purpose of the office is understood, defined and embraced.

Redefining the role of the workplace
Hybrid working brings complexities beyond a blanket "100% on-site" or "100% remote" workplace. However, this forced reimagination of how and where we work has provided a unique opportunity to redefine the role of the workplace in providing real added value for organisations, teams and their people. 

 

Agile approach
It is important to note that the 'workplace' encompasses both the physical and digital environments where work is undertaken. This includes everything from the physical office to the way work gets done, all in tandem with a consideration of your workforce and the type of work they perform. The challenge of hybrid working is as unprecedented as the challenge of remote working was. Organisations must be willing to take an agile approach by adopting a trial-and-error mindset, and leaders need to be comfortable with not knowing all the answers. 


While strategic planning must be undertaken to make hybrid working a reality, agility will be critical as lessons are learned, and models of hybrid working are refined. With this in mind, flexible attitudes will be key, providing trust and room for modifications and amendments as required. Along with asking employees for their input into the design of the Workplace of the Future, being honest with your people about this evolving journey to hybrid working is crucial.  

Undoubtedly, a hybrid model presents a number of intricate complexities, from design and preparation right through to implementation and sustainability. No 'one size fits all' approach exists when considering where, how and when people will need - and want - to work going forward. It is therefore critical to take an agile approach.  

There are four key actions to take now: PwC has developed the '4Rs' (Remember, Rebuild, Redefine, Reimagine) to define the purpose of your future office:

1. Remember.
Leverage the learnings from the ways of working throughout the pandemic. A thorough reflection on remote working can help you understand what elements of remote working you want to retain in your new workplace model and which you wish to leave behind. Your future workplace model may need to consider appropriate home working arrangements on specified days for your workforce to continue to devote time to such tasks in this way. The lessons to be learned from how your organisation has performed and the reality of what your employees have experienced are valuable inputs into any design of a future workplace model.

2.Rebuild.  
Take stock and take action.  Remodelling of the workplace for your organisation requires consideration of the business strategy, the people and culture, compliance and risk and technology and learning – in addition to the physical environment. Understand employee sentiment, future business strategy and management expectations, discuss current challenges and future goals and gather data and insights to co-create the best workplace model going forward.  Your workplace will also increasingly become a key factor in attraction and retention of talent. Implementing an agile, flexible approach will enable your organisation to stretch and scale as lessons are learned and priorities pivot.

3. Redefine.
Reimagine your workplace with collaboration at the centre and in a way that supports different types of work preferences.  Once you've understood how your people want to use different workplaces and spaces, hit go and redesign accordingly. Think less cubicles and more hubs for collaboration, with enough variability to meet different needs and expectations.  Whether it's war-rooms for team strategy sessions, outdoor spaces for mental refreshment or technology that lets you coordinate calendars simply, workspace design should incorporate both physical and non-spatial elements to create a seamless, supportive and healthy office experience.

4.Reimagine
Acknowledge that COVID-19 wasn't the first pandemic the world has experienced – and it won't be the last.  Organisations have to future-proof their offices, from ensuring adequate spacing between staff to mitigating bottlenecks in areas of high footfall, reviewing air conditioning infrastructure and implementing zero-touch technologies. Identify what is a permanent fixture of your 'new normal' and undertake scenario planning, so you are equipped with contingency plans and responses to future disruption.

 

Ends

Business Resumption Support Scheme Open for Registration
 

The Business Resumption Support Scheme (or BRSS) is now open for registration on Revenue Online Service (ROS). The BRSS is a new support scheme for businesses with reduced turnover as a result of public health restrictions. Qualifying businesses will be able to apply to Revenue for a cash payment, representing an advance credit for trading expenses that are deductible for income and/or corporation tax purposes.


Payments will be calculated on the basis of 3 weeks at 10% of the first €1m in turnover per week and 5% thereafter, based on average VAT exclusive turnover for 2019, and will be subject to a maximum payment of €15,000. Businesses will be required to have tax clearance and payment will be conditional on the business actively trading on 1 September with an intention to continue to trade.

An extensive PDF with guidelines on the BRSS is available here.

More information from Revenue on the BRSS is available here.


Renewing Our City: Planning for Our Future
 

Dublin Chamber has renewed its call for a single elected mayor covering the whole Dublin region, as well as many other changes to help get the capital city back on track post-Covid. In a new policy paper, the Chamber outlines 13 key recommendations to encourage urban renewal and revitalisation of town and city centres through cohesive plans and joined-up thinking, as well as legislative and planning reforms. You can read the document in full here.


Update on EWSS & Unemployment Supports
 

Here are two things you should know about the wage subsidy and unemployment benefits currently available on account of Covid-19.

 

First, there has been a clarification on the turnover requirement for the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme. EWSS will be in place until 31 December 2021. The exemption from the 30% reduction in turnover requirement for ELC and SAC providers is in place until 30 September 2021. A decision on the continuation of the exemption after 30 September will be made in the coming weeks.

 

Second, in line with the government’s Economic Recovery Plan, the Covid-19 PUP will be gradually reduced on a tapered basis over a 6 month period until February 2022 to align it with the standard jobseekers payments. This transition commences in September 2021.

 

The top three rates of PUP will reduce by €50 this month. The maximum weekly rate of €350 will reduce to €300. The current rate of €300 will reduce to €250 and the current rate of €250 will reduce to €203. The new payment rates will be reflected in payments received later in September.

 

People on the €203 PUP rate will transition to standard jobseekers’ terms. People who are receiving this rate of payment will be advised in the coming weeks on their options regarding standard Jobseekers’ payments, that is, Jobseeker’s Benefit or Jobseeker’s Allowance. Payment of PUP will continue while jobseeker claims are being processed. Two further phases of rate changes are scheduled to take place from 16 November 2021 and 8 February 2022. As PUP recipients go on to the €203 rate in each phase, they will be transitioned to standard jobseeker terms.


OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises
 

If your business is a multinational, you should be aware that the Irish Government has established a National Contact Point (NCP) as part of its commitment to the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.

 

The NCP is located in the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and exists to promote the Guidelines, provide information on their implementation, manage stakeholder enquiries and provide a grievance mechanism to resolve complaints relating to non-observance. You can read more information here.

 

Meanwhile, Dublin Chamber has been gathering member feedback on the Department of Finance consultation regarding the OECD’s proposed international corporate tax framework and will be feeding this into Government.


Meeting Ireland’s Sustainable Development Goals
 

The Government is soon to begin drafting its next SDG National Implementation Plan. The UN Sustainable Development Goals are far reaching and encompass all aspects of social, economic, and environmental sustainability. For Dublin and Ireland to progress on the SDGs all stakeholders need to be engaged and progress needs to be monitored and encouraged.

 

Dublin Chamber is recommending to Government that the next SDG National Implementation Plan include set actions for delivery, that Government departments incorporate the SDGs into strategy, and that the plan include provision for Government to provide regular updates on national and departmental progression.  

 

The data collection on the SDGs is not yet robust, and this needs to be improved on. 

Additionally, the Chamber is urging that the business community, as hugely influential and impactful stakeholders in sustainability, are afforded suitable means of inputting to the data collection process on the actions that they are taking in support of the SDGs. 

 

Finally, key to the success of progressing on the SDGs is creating the required public awareness and understanding of the SDGs. This is particularly important within the business community as enabling stakeholders to engage with the SDGs in such a way that is appropriate for their business activities specifically will have significant impact on progress. 


Circular Economy Innovation Grants
 

Minister of State with special responsibility for the Circular Economy and Communications, Ossian Smyth TD, has announced funding of €490,000 for 10 projects across Ireland under the first Circular Economy Innovation Grant Scheme (CEIGS). For more information, please click here.