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More than half of Irish people would only apply for flexible jobs, survey says

14 Dec 2021

Recent research from Indeed and others has highlighted the importance of flexible work in today’s changed market, with employees in Ireland looking to take full advantage.

More than half (56pc) of Irish working adults surveyed by careers site Indeed have said they would only apply for flexible jobs or roles that would allow them to work from home.

Indeed’s latest monthly job survey from November 2021 was conducted on 1,500 adults aged between 18 and 64. It found that 18pc of respondents would only apply for jobs where remote working was allowed, while 38pc said they would only consider hybrid working and flexible working roles.

Just under two-thirds (64pc) of workers said that what they looked for in an employer had changed since the pandemic began. More than half (52pc) said they wanted to see clear health and safety guidelines in the workplace to prevent the spread of illness, while more than a quarter (26pc) want their employer to provide team-building opportunities to maintain workplace relationships.

“There is little doubt that the pandemic will have a lasting impact on the world of work, with opportunities for flexible working or working from home now widely expected from employees,” said Pawel Adrjan, head of EMEA research at Indeed.

“In a tight labour market, employers looking to fill roles will likely need to think about how they can tailor opportunities to meet these expectations. Against a backdrop of inflation and rising labour costs, it is clear that many workers expect generous pay increases to tempt them to change roles.”

A flexible future

Indeed’s findings indicate that while workers are looking for more choice and flexibility, employers are having a tough time filling roles. Just 4pc of respondents said they were actively or urgently searching for new jobs, while job postings on Indeed are 53pc above their pre-pandemic baseline.

As the re-evaluation of work and its role in people’s lives looks set to have a long-term impact, a recent report from Microsoft found that Irish business and tech leaders have considerable work to do to overcome digital challenges in the changing workplace.

The ‘Digital Ireland – Inclusive Recovery’ report was produced following an economic assessment of the potential impact of digital technology in Ireland. More than 360 business decision-makers and technology leaders nationwide in both the public and private sectors took part in a survey informing the report conducted by Amárach Research in May 2021.

In the survey, 69pc of respondents said they envisaged a hybrid workforce for the future as more people continue to opt to work from home more of the time. Flexible and remote working was considered to be a significant factor in motivating leaders to adopt digital technologies such as cloud computing.

The majority (82pc) of respondents said they had been forced to adopt digital services and technologies faster and sooner due to the Covid-19 emergency, with 77pc agreeing the investment made in digital technology since the start of the pandemic will have a lasting positive impact on their organisation.

Tech investment to retain talent

Investment and advancements in digital technologies could also have a positive impact on recruitment, with 74pc of technology leaders saying that digitalisation would enable them to attract and retain talent.

“The economic and transformative impact of digitalisation both on public and private sector organisations since the Covid-19 emergency began has been monumental. As the report clearly demonstrates, the last 18 months have highlighted the seismic potential of the digital economy in Ireland over the coming years,” said Kieran McCorry, Microsoft Ireland’s national technology officer.

McCorry added that more needs to be done as many businesses are “just now scratching the surface of digital transformation and how they use data and tools, connect with customers, or engage employees”.

With 49pc of people surveyed by Indeed indicating they wanted to work away from the office at least two days a week, the need for business leaders to implement the appropriate digital strategies can be clearly seen.

2022 as a ‘trial period’

While a flexible future looks likely, there is still demand for some office-based work. In a survey of 280 organisations by the Compliance Institute, formerly the Association of Compliance Officers of Ireland, almost 70pc of employers said they believed employees would still need to come into the office weekly.

More than half (53pc) said this would need to be two or three days a week, while 67pc said at least once a week would suffice. Of those surveyed, 28pc said they were open to people working from home as long as they could commute to the office when needed.

Many organisations (38pc) said that where a person works from had yet to be decided or would be managed on a case-by-case basis. Almost three-quarters (72pc) said they would continue to use digital tools like Zoom even as people returned to workplaces, and they would use virtual meetings in place of in-person meetings on occasion.

According to Michael Kavanagh, CEO of the Compliance Institute, the start of 2022 may be akin to a “trial period” for many organisations as they negotiate hybrid work arrangements with workers.

“The pandemic has changed many people’s live-work situation as well as their goals and ambitions, and so patience and communication will be required by both employers and employees to figure out workable solutions and compromises in the months ahead,” he added.

“Questions will need to be asked such as whether it tenable to keep renting office or commercial space when a large portion of your staff are working from home, from an alternative location, or abroad. Will employee retention become an issue if remote working is not allowed? There are many elements to weigh up.”

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Blathnaid O’Dea
By Blathnaid O’Dea

Blathnaid O’Dea worked as a Careers reporter until 2024, coming from a background in the Humanities. She likes people, pranking, pictures of puffins – and apparently alliteration.

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