Creative Spark Dundalk Ready for New Working Landscape

Patrick Flaherty

Reporter:

Patrick Flaherty

Email:

Patrick.flaherty@iconicnews.ie

Dundalk’s Creative Spark generates over €3.8 million for local economy

Dundalk’s Creative Spark, which provides a hot desking service for those needing to get work done away from the office or home

Working from home has become one of newest facets of life that people in Ireland have had to adapt to as we continue to do all we can to fight off the Covid-19 pandemic by staying at home as much as possible.

But while learning to have meetings in our front room or finishing the spreadsheets in the bedroom is a challenging change to life in the home, the problem that faces more and more people is the simple fact their broadband speeds cannot keep up with the heavy demands put on their services.

However there has always been one place in Dundalk that has come to aid of those needing a better connection to get their work done, that being Creative Spark based in Clontygora Drive.

The centre for creativity and innovation was launched in October 2012 with the goal of providing dedicated creative training and workspace facilities for new and established enterprises in county Louth.

Sarah Daly is the centre’s Managing Director and stated that they have been providing a place for businesses and workers alike to get their job done ever since first opening their doors.

“We always had a co working element and a hot desking element to it, she claims, “I suppose in the early days people didn’t really know what co working meant and it was underused but in the last few years it has become much more popular.”

“We have 12 co working desks in our co working space and they would have been fully occupied up until the lockdown in the last year and we have always had the hot desk option where people can just come in and plug in their laptop for a half day or a day if they need to.”

Hot desking refers to the practice of allocating a work bench to someone on an ad hoc basis, with people booking to use a desk whenever they need it and leaving it clean and empty for the next user to take advantage of in their time of need.

A desk in the centre is available to rent costing €8 for a half day and €15 for a full day, while those needing longer access can pay a monthly fee of €185 and Daly claims she has noticed a jump in demand for the service in the past year.

“I think people find us when they need us, that type of scenario but we have certainly seen a much bigger demand this year, particularly during the Summer when things were a bit more open, but people still weren’t necessarily going back to working in a big office with a whole lot of people.”

The hot desking services are currently limited due to the lockdown, but she is confident demand will start to pick up again when restrictions begin to ease down.

“With level five restrictions we don’t have many people in the building at all, just a few people who are working in essential services. We have a few people who work with medical devices, or IT or payroll that would need to be in there.”

“At this stage we are not encouraging people to come out who are already working from home as it is just not available at the moment, as we have to be responsible and encourage people to stay at home. But once things ease up, we will be delighted to welcome them again.”

Creative Spark has also been a help to those trying to run a business but not having the facilities to run their firms from home, creating office spaces with fast internet for them and providing entrepreneurs with the chance to partake in courses to further enhance their business.

“We have office spaces on site and they are for creative industries, we have everything from architecture to web design and development, all those creative and technological sectors. There are 30 small businesses in all based in the centre.”

“We run a lot of programs with the likes of the local enterprise office and the chamber of commerce as a skill nest and help them to promote training in enterprise topics, everything from starting your own business to managing your finances or social media, all of them types of courses.”

Daly is hopeful that there will be a shift to working dynamics post the pandemic, believing hubs like theirs can help create a better and more healthy relationship between social and working lives.

“I think that whole blended model of people working from home or a local hub three days a week and then only going to the office maybe once or twice a week is a good idea. That possibility has opened up for everybody all over the country now.”

“There’s benefits to people’s community and social life when they aren’t spending hours on a train, bus or car going up and down to Dublin every day which is fantastic.”