A group of young employees are working in an office, socially distanced and wearing masks.
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New hires and younger staff could return to offices first, report says

26 Mar 2021

A new report led by Aon looks at how employers in Ireland can prepare for the ‘evolving needs of a hybrid workforce’ as offices reopen.

Employers should devise a phased approach when returning to offices, potentially prioritising groups that may have challenges with remote working – including new hires, younger employees and teams that rely on collaboration.

This is according to a report published today (26 March) by professional services firm Aon and a group of Irish employers, outlining the challenges companies are facing and will continue to face as we recover from the pandemic.

As organisations restructure how and where their employees work, the report added, leaders will need additional training on managing teams that are remote or hybrid, as well as monitoring productivity, maintaining engagement and managing performance.

Companies will also have to consider the future role of the physical office, particularly in light of a new Government strategy that could see remote working become a more permanent option for many in the years to come. The report said that this may be a space to facilitate collaboration rather than a single place of work, and the set-up of physical workspaces may need to be adapted to reflect these needs.

The report also stated that companies may need to consider the continuation of things like remote hiring and onboarding, and continue embracing digital transformation at speed so they can maintain a remote workforce into the long term. To support this, enhanced cybersecurity training and privacy guidelines will be necessary.

While a KPMG survey published earlier this week suggested that only 30pc of global executives are considering a hybrid working model for their staff, where most employees work remotely between two and three days a week, several big names have already announced plans for new work strategies.

This week alone, both Microsoft and Citi said they would move towards a hybrid working model as offices reopen and into the longer term. It follows similar announcements from other multinational companies that have a large presence in Ireland, including Salesforce and Indeed.

“As the vaccine roll-out continues and the Government begins to map out a gradual reopening of our economy and society, business leaders are focusing their attention on how to successfully transition to a post-pandemic environment,” said Peter Brady, CEO for commercial risk and health solutions at Aon in Ireland.

“The task of building a sustainable recovery while also meeting the evolving needs of a hybrid workforce is a complex challenge that we wanted to explore further.”

Led by Aon, the other companies involved in the report published today were Accenture, AIB, A&L Goodbody, Bord Bia, Citi, Icon, KPMG and Irish Life, along with business representative group Ibec.

Danny McCoy, CEO of Ibec, said that while the initial move to remote working last year was earmarked as a short-term measure, it will now have a “prolonged impact” on businesses.

“Companies need to be prepared for the future and for a time when there is a return of the workforce to the workplace.”

Sarah Harford
By Sarah Harford

Sarah Harford was sub-editor of Silicon Republic for three and a half years.

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