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As employers prep for return to offices, employees want four-day week, survey says

21 Aug 2023

Three quarters of those surveyed by Hays Ireland said they would change jobs for a nine-day working fortnight.

Irish employers are investing in new technology and other workplace perks to entice workers back into the office, according to the findings of a new survey of 1,597 professionals by Hays Ireland that was conducted between April and May 2023.

Hays’ research found that more than half of all employers (56pc) believe that staff will be required back in the office more often in the next 12 months. Only 10pc think workers will be required in the office less frequently, while 34pc expect things to remain as they are currently.

However, among the workers surveyed, there was significant interest in switching to a four-day working week – another talking point that has emerged in recent times alongside the flexible working conversation.

Last year, several Irish companies took part in a global pilot programme by campaign group Four Day Week Ireland. Of the 12 Irish businesses that took part, nine said they would continue with the four-day week, while the remainder had not at that point implemented long-term plans to do so yet.

Hays’ survey found that three-quarters (75pc) of all Irish-based professionals polled would change jobs for a nine-day working fortnight. More than half (51pc) would consider changing roles for a compressed four-day working week.

“The concept of a four-day working week has gained momentum in the last 12 months. The latest iteration of this concept is the nine-day working fortnight, which would allow employees to take off every second Friday. This is obviously an exciting prospect for many professionals and may be more palatable to employers,” said Maureen Lynch, managing director of Hays Ireland.

“However, our research suggests employers and employees are still grappling with what this would look like in practice and which sectors would be most suited to this new way of working. Either way, it is positive that these questions are being asked and that old ways of working are now being challenged.”

But a return to offices in the near future seems to be on employers’ radar as many (49pc) said they have invested in new technology and other workplace perks to encourage workers back to the office. Almost a third (30pc) of those surveyed said they are offering onsite childcare, while 48pc are offering bike storage and shower facilities. Half are offering a paid-for or subsidised lunch and one quarter have even resorted to letting workers bring pets into the office if they wish.

In her commentary on the survey results, Lynch mentioned Zoom’s recent decision to call its staff back into the office on a hybrid basis. She also pointed out that the world of work is currently evolving thanks to the changes brought on by the pandemic.

“Our research suggests this conversation is still in its infancy. Employees favour greater autonomy relating to the hours they work and where they work from. Employers, for their part, recognise the many benefits of remote and hybrid working, but have also identified certain challenges.”

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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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