‘I come to the office and get my work done, and drive for 5 minutes and I’m home’, says Declan Sugrue, as he sits resplendent in his chair, surveying his office in South Kerry. An architect by trade, with his own business, Declan is immeasurably content with his work-life balance. A bustling business and burgeoning family on the go.
It was a few years ago that Declan envisaged providing office space for the remote worker in one of the most scenic spots in the country. Thus, Office Light; a co-working space in Cahersiveen, was born. Strangely prescient now in the age of Covid-19. In an age which has seen people refocus on family and work/life balance over all else, South Kerry seems the perfect location to achieve just that.
Nestled in our most south-westerly point, Cahersiveen is an idyllic town home to just over a thousand occupants. Those who have driven there, will know you don’t get there by mistake. Yet it and its surrounding area have been central to much of our great history.
On arrival, you are immediately met with the birthplace of Daniel O’Connell. Indeed it boasts the only church in Ireland not named after a saint, with the towering chapel named after the great Liberator instead. It was also only out the other side of town that the first trans-Atlantic cable was laid, connecting the great civilizations of Europe and the Americas at last. A fine setting to lay your own familial cable.
The past few years, have seen our airwaves full of talk of a housing crisis, and a Dublin-centric economy. Rents were soaring and general cost of living was relentlessly on the rise in and around the pale. People worked hard, sacrificed much, yet struggled to see a return.
This has resulted in a large segment of our workforce spending a chunk of their evening in the car, with the drive-time radio droning on; arriving home just in time to read a bed time story. Burnout seems inevitable. Some must be left to wonder how many sacred moments have I missed?
For years there has been a longing for decentralisation. Moving away from the hustle and bustle of Dublin is needed, as well as moving away from the sky rocketing property prices. In the era of Covid-19 this is now a real alternative, with people encouraged to work remotely ‘where possible’.
As Declan says; ‘remote working and quality of life is becoming much more of a focus for people and remote working is the solution”. A great insight into how our working landscape has changed.
Shifting your Gaze
One thing that is as ever changing as our workplace, is the landscape around South Kerry. It is terrain that seems to change on any given day, depending on the weather. Sun kissed afternoons, whilst rare, augment the rugged, rolling hills as they tumble into the sea.
Rain soaked afternoons where the clouds clamber down the same hills give the land an ethereal quality. It is a region that moves around you, as much as you do it. Why wouldn’t you jump at the chance to rear a family here, whilst getting paid?
Summers are vibrant with a variety of cultures and nationalities mingling in the holiday atmosphere. With the ocean on the doorstep, the holiday vibe is available to local and tourist alike. Being able to wrap up a satisfying days work by heading not for the car but to the seaside with the family is a privilege we can all avail of.
Winters are just as nourishing, with families enjoying the quiet existence in front of the fire as the wind howls and the stove soothes. It is a chance to recharge the batteries and nourish the familial ties that bind. The only talk of burnout is of the stove, how refreshing.
A Golden Opportunity in Iveragh
‘I get to visit my parents, cousins, in-laws, childhood friends etc. but because I work remotely, I am still able to run a successful business’, it certainly is the best of both worlds for Declan and his family. Why wouldn’t we all want a piece of that?
Covid-19 has had many severe downfalls for sure. However, one benefit is we have seen people realise what’s important; family, friends and our inter-connection. Time with family has become vital. This cannot be achieved by spending it alone in traffic.
Yet many will attest to finding the whole working from home thing very difficult. With zoom on in corner of the room, and toddlers melting down in the other. A difficult juggling act. This is where Office Light and its kind come in handy. It is providing an oasis of calm in a world in flux.
Having a space to go to is ideal, yet having a door you can close on your working day is vital. If this is not neatly balanced then work can follow you around like that annoying younger cousin.
With a consistently strong WIFI service (would want to after providing that cable, in fairness), and talk of further hot desks being provided out the road, by the South Kerry Gaeltacht, the opportunity to change course has never been so available.
He may not have realised it at the time of its inception, but Declan and others like him, have provided an actual essential service. The opportunity to have your cake and eat it, is soundly provided for in South Kerry. The opportunity to work away as always, yet have the backdrop of such a stunning region is one those who can, must take up.