Do employees want to work from home after Covid-19?

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A new survey suggests people in Ireland may want to continue working remotely after the pandemic has passed.

The initial results of a survey from NUI Galway’s Whitaker Institute and the Western Development Commission suggest that many people in Ireland may want to continue working remotely after the Covid-19 pandemic has passed.

The project surveyed 7,241 people from different industries and sectors across Ireland. Of that number, 83pc of participants said they want to remain working remotely in the future.

More than half of those surveyed said they had never worked remotely before the Covid-19 crisis began, and more than three-quarters of that cohort said they want to continue remote working either some or all of the time after it ends. Some 12pc of respondents said they would like to work remotely on a daily basis, while 42pc said they would like to work remotely several times a week.

The survey also looked at some of the challenges facing those working from home in Ireland. The most common issues cited by respondents were being unable to switch off from work, difficulties in communicating and collaborating with colleagues, balancing childcare with work and having a poor physical workspace.

One in five reported issues with internet connectivity, while better ergonomic equipment was one of the key changes suggested to help with wellbeing and productivity while working from home.

However, respondents also identified a number of advantages. These included no longer having to commute to work, reduced costs and greater flexibility.

Future of work

Prof Alma McCarthy of NUI Galway said: “The future of work post-Covid-19 is really interesting. The vast majority of respondents want to continue to work remotely when the crisis is over.

“Many roles and jobs can be performed effectively remotely. What is the benefit of long commutes to work and sitting in traffic if we can leverage technology at least some of the week to do our work?

“Productivity does not necessarily correlate with presence in the workplace. What we do is more important than where we do it for many roles. A mindset change is needed by managers and employers in terms of managing work remotely. The current crisis provides an opportunity for organisations and managers to rethink how we work.”

Tomás Ó Síocháin, CEO of the Western Development Commission, added that the survey suggested a particularly high preference for working from home by respondents in the west and midlands.

“The preference of working from home or close to home in a hub or work-sharing space will allow individuals a better balance of work and home and generate and sustain economic activity in rural and regional areas,” he said.

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