Remote Working with a View
18 May 2021 By Liam Horan
MODAM, the first established offshore digital hub in the country, is located on the island of Arranmore off the west coast of Donegal. We speak to Adrian Begley, the Chair of the Arranmore Island Community Council, and Matthew Loughnane a remote worker based on the island, about the impact of the digital hub on the local economy since its establishment in 2019 and the future for remote working on the island.
Initially developed as part of the #ComingHome Campaign, the aim of MODAM was to turn the tide on a declining population and make the island more sustainable for the future. The digital hub on Arranmore has been supported by The Department of Rural and Community Development, Donegal County Council, Three Ireland and Udarás na Gaeltachta. The island community have been supportive from the beginning and welcomed the development as a potential source of opportunities for the island, as Adrian states “a digital hub opens new opportunities in employment and facilitates remote workers, which in turn could mean our Diaspora being able to return home to Arranmore”. MODAM offers remote workers a unique, bespoke experience of “a much more relaxed and calm workplace, while still providing a secure, reliable and high speed internet connection as good as you would find in any city” explains Adrian.
The development of this digital hub has been beneficial to the aims of the Arranmore Island Community Council as it plans to rejuvenate the island and change the perception people may have of life on an island off West Donegal, as Adrian tells us “What is now possible on the island allows people the choice to have their ideal work-life balance if they so wish”. The experience that MODAM provides for its client’s is unlike any other digital hub and completely changes the concept of working remotely as it has many of the amenities and benefits of a world-class hub, but with stunning scenery to explore and a beach on the doorstep.
One new islander, Matthew Loughnane who has familial connections in Arranmore, has been working remotely on the island since July of 2020 due to the Covid-19 travel restrictions. Prior to his move, he was based in London where lockdown was difficult and limiting, he expressed “since coming here, I have a lot more freedom to be in the open air without risk”. He goes on to explain how the island community have been a great source of relief during this last year as they are “far closer and more supportive than urban areas”. The difference between isolating in Arranmore and London are staggering and is a massive boon to the region. “Arranmore rivals any part of the country for scenic views, exploring these areas in the evening’s helps you relax and clear your head, compared to travelling on the tube”.
Adrian discloses that the Community Council are hopeful that MODAM will continue to go from strength to strength, saying “The working world is set to change dramatically in the years ahead as the pandemic ends, and we envisage an increased demand for our facility due to an increase in remote working”. The future of remote working on Arannmore and the opportunities that come with it is bright and hopeful. Discussing the plans for the digital hub, Adrian stated “MODAM will continue to offer the very unique and much sought-after service it currently does, and we will consider growing with demand”.
Arranmore Island Community Council regularly engages with education and training providers throughout Ireland and organisations such as Grow Remote, building on the successes to date of MODAM for the community. In addition it continues to highlight other important needs for the island and its returning Diaspora in areas such as housing and continues to work on the completion of the subsea fibre cable connection to Arranmore which, as Adrian puts it, “will complement the existing mobile broadband service and future-proof the island for our future generations”.