The Impact Hub is ‘purposefully built to be as inclusive as possible’ with a fully accessible work environment.
Ireland’s first purpose-built hub for inclusive remote working has opened in Cork, with facilities to support workers with disabilities.
The new hub was opened today (March 25) by Tánaiste and Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar, TD. It was developed in collaboration with the Ballincollig Business Association and the Rubicon Center of Munster Technological University.
Located at the Crann Center in Ballincollig, the Impact Hub will enable people with disabilities to enjoy the benefits of co-working while creating local businesses and employment opportunities.
It features a 17-desk facility with high-speed broadband, a fully accessible work environment and ample free parking. The three-acre site includes a recreation room, gym and inclusive playground.
“I’m a big fan of remote and hybrid work, and the government wants this to become a much bigger part of working life,” Varadkar said. “The pandemic has shown us what is possible, but now we need to set up the structures to choose the new normal, if possible.”
Varadkar said that remote working offers opportunities for many people, including those with disabilities, and we need to ensure that facilities are in place to meet their needs. “It’s something we all need to think about when designing a service or space,” he added.
“This new hub is one of hundreds we are investing in across the country. However, this is different as it was purpose built to be as inclusive as possible.
The companies in the Impact Hub receive tailor-made business support and guidance from the local corporate offices of the City and County of Cork. The hub is sponsored by AIB, Cork City Council and the Open Doors Initiative, which advocates for equal employment opportunities.
Crann Center founder and president Kate Jarvey said, “At a time when only 36.5 percent of people (aged 15 to 64) with disabilities are employed, compared to 72.8 percent of people without disabilities, it is important that we all take proactive steps to bring about change.”
MC for the launch event, Sarah Dullea, said she struggled to find an accessible location for her beauty therapy business in 2019, before the Crann Center gave her the chance to move into their facility. She spoke about the impact this had on her and was delighted to see other people with disabilities have the opportunity to work and collaborate in this new hub.
Cork County Mayor Gillian Coughlan added: “When our economic development team, led by Sharon Corcoran, met the Crann Impact Hub team, we knew it made sense to get involved. Our Local Enterprise team can provide the specialized support to help the businesses and individuals based here grow and thrive.”
Last March, the government launched Employers for Change with the Open Doors initiative, a web-based employer information service about disability and a dedicated helpline to make the workplace more inclusive for people with disabilities.
Leo Varadkar at the RDS in Dublin in 2018. Image: Eóin Noonan/MoneyConf via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
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