44pc of Irish workers work from home at least once a month

28 Jan 2014

Almost half of employees (44pc) in Ireland work from home at least one day a month and many of these (45pc) predict that over the next five years the majority of business communications will be from home or outside the office.

According to a new survey from O2 of those that work remotely, one-third predict that the trend of remote working is going to accelerate.

Commenting on the findings, O2’s business director Alan Brown said: “It is clear that the way we work is changing radically.

“Today’s mobile technology is able to complement, and in some cases replace, the traditional office and the survey confirms that technology is making it easier for people to work outside the office. We are becoming a nation of not just road warriors but home warriors.”

Work-life balance

O2 commissioned Ignite Research to find out what percentage of the total adult population in Ireland work from home.

A follow-up study drilled down into the attitudes of those who currently work remotely, which was defined as working at least one day a month from home, in a client’s office, in a coffee shop, on the train or from another location outside of the office.

More than two-thirds (70pc) of respondents who work remotely agreed or strongly agreed that working outside the office enabled them to find a positive work-life balance. A similar number (69pc) said they felt happier after working off-site for a day compared to working in their office.

“Whether it is because workers are on the road, visiting clients, because they need space to think, be creative or boost their productivity, or because they would like achieve a better work-life balance, remote working is here to stay,” said Brown.

More than a quarter (28pc) of those surveyed said they already had a dedicated working space in their home, while more than a half (53pc) would consider setting up a home office in the future.

Better connected

Unsurprisingly, the inclination towards home working is more pronounced among those with children. Forty-two per cent of those with children expect to be working more often outside the office compared to 29pc of those with no children. Amongst those who thought they would be working remotely more often, almost half (47pc) said technology was making it easier for them to work outside the office.

While the majority of respondents (78pc) tend to base themselves at home when working away from the office, half of those surveyed (49pc) said they had worked in a hotel, while 40pc had worked in a cafe. A similar number (39pc) had worked on a train or bus, while nearly a third (31pc) had worked in airports.

“In order to improve the mobile data experience for all customers, whether using the network for business or personal reasons, O2 upgraded its network significantly in 2013,” Brown said.

“This allowed more people in more places, both indoor and on the move, to enjoy better data connectivity on their smartphones, tablets and mobile broadband devices. In 2013, we upgraded almost 400 2G sites across the country. O2’s existing 3G service has also been enhanced, with over 300 sites upgraded to 42Mbps and in parallel 97pc of 3G sites activated with 21Mbps speeds, leading to an improved data experience for our customers.”

A lack of direct interaction with colleagues was seen as the biggest disadvantage of working remotely. This was followed by external distractions, such as children or pets, and not having access to the right technology.

Company culture or because it did not match their personality or technical limitations were the main reasons for not working outside the office, according to the minority (11pc), who said they would work remotely less often over the next 12 months.

And while working remotely may be good for your mental health, three-quarters of home workers admit to snacking more often. Twelve per cent say they snack more all the time, 30pc say they eat more sometimes, while 33pc do so occasionally.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years