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Is remote working here to stay?

22 Jun 2020

Employers and employees are starting to think about life after Covid-19 restrictions are eased, and many believe that hybrid working will become the norm going forward.

How we will work in the future has been a topic of debate for a long time now. But with the sudden shift to remote working in recent months, employers are now faced with making an important decision about working life beyond Covid-19.

Hybrid working models are one avenue many businesses may be looking to take in the coming weeks and months as restrictions are eased. In a hybrid working arrangement, there is a mix of people working in the office and from home or other remote locations.

This may involve some staff working in the office full-time and others outside of it full-time, or a more flexible schedule where different people will be in the office on different days of the week.

A recent survey by the Institute of Directors in Ireland suggested that many business leaders in Ireland have identified a hybrid working model as the way forward. Only one in eight surveyed said they believe all staff will be back in the office after Covid-19 restrictions are lifted.

Tech workers don’t want to go back to the office full-time

In another recent survey by Dublin Tech Talks of 3,500 technology professionals in Ireland, 90pc said they do not intend to return to working from the office full-time after the pandemic. However, only one in five said they plan to work remotely full-time.

Although 85pc said they were happy with how their leaders had handled the challenges of the past few months, 42pc said they were anxious about their employer’s capacity to implement physical distancing in the office.

Three-quarters of respondents said they don’t want to commute to the office more than three days a week, and almost one-third said they are worried about travelling to work on public transport.

Gavin Fox, founder of Dublin Tech Talks, said: “Despite the economic challenges of Covid-19, demand for tech talent has actually increased as organisations rush to digitise their operations.

“From our research, it’s clear that employers will need to make remote working common practice while providing access to a safe space.”

Employers plan to encourage more remote working

But what are employers planning going forward? HRLocker surveyed 370 CEOs and CHROs, and more than three-quarters said they plan to encourage their employees to work remotely more often after restrictions are lifted.

Most indicated plans to adopt a form of hybrid or ‘dual’ working, where employees split their time between the office and home. Almost half said that in such a model, employees would spend a minimum of three days out of the office every week. Just 14pc of participants said they don’t see remote working as a feasible option.

The main reasons cited for introducing more remote working was to create a better work-life balance for employees, and encourage cost savings and higher productivity levels.

Adam Coleman, CEO of HRLocker, said: “It’s crazy to think it took a pandemic for us to realise the multiple benefits of dual working … I believe companies that embrace the shift to this healthier, more efficient way of working, will emerge stronger and more successful in the long run.”

However, Coleman also emphasised the importance of continuing to provide robust wellbeing initiatives for hybrid teams. “Remote working presents its own set of HR challenges that must be addressed if it is to be sustainable in the long term. Out of sight should not mean out of mind.

“Adequate processes and tools must be introduced to ensure those working remotely do not begin to feel isolated, that their workloads are manageable and they are engaged. A happy and healthy worker is a productive worker.”

Lisa Ardill
By Lisa Ardill

Lisa Ardill joined Silicon Republic as senior careers reporter in July 2019. She has a BA in neuroscience and a master’s degree in science communication. She is also a semi-published poet and a big fan of doggos. Lisa briefly served as Careers Editor at Silicon Republic before leaving the company in June 2021.

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