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Poor broadband hampering efforts of people to work from home

Working from home remains a key part of the government’s strategy for managing our way through the Coronavirus pandemic.

In Level 1, which is when the Coronavirus is at its lowest possible prevalence in the community, the advice is: ‘Work from home if possible. You can attend work for specific business requirements and on a staggered attendance basis’.

And as we go through the Levels, the instruction to work from home becomes stronger.

We are currently at Level 2 where the advice is: ‘Work from home if possible. If you can work from home, you are advised to only attend work for essential on-site meetings, inductions and training’.

However, in the latest Taxpayer Sentiment survey conducted by tax refund specialists Taxback.com, 51% of over 2,500 respondents from all over Ireland said they had experienced technical issues due to poor quality broadband in their home since lockdown was first implemented back in March.

Speaking of the findings, Marian Ryan, Consumer Tax Manager at Taxback.com, said: “Many of the working population have had to adapt to a new way of working, with the lockdown resulting in 34% of the workforce having to work from home and 12% increasing their number of hours remote working from home[1] since April.

“This has led to an increase in the use of technology for work, with far more video conferencing and online meetings and training being used now than ever before in many workplaces.

“As we no longer have the office IT department on hand, or even a colleague who we deem a bit more tech savvy than ourselves to ask questions of when our tech lets us down, we were interested to get a glimpse into how the nation was coping with this adjustment.”

20% of those who experienced broadband issues live in a rural location with a further 17% residing in a small city or town.

Ms Ryan urged to government to speed up the National Broadband Plan in an effort to tackle this issue.

She said: “Our communications infrastructure around the country is the big challenge, and this is not something that an individual can, or can even be expected to, tackle themselves.

“But from a wider standpoint, it gives weight to the argument that rural and local economies will continue to suffer if we can’t put the structures and systems in place to allow business to carry out fairly basic, but very necessary, functions like operating online.

“The need for quality rural and regional broadband is clearer than ever in light of Covid-19, and the National Broadband Plan, which is currently in Phase 1 of its roll out, will go a long way to tackling and hopefully reversing this inequality into the coming years.”

SEE ALSO – EXPLAINED: The full details of the Government’s Level 1 to 5 plan for Covid-19