The benefits of working from home are becoming more obvious to those who have been away from their office since the start of lockdown, according to a new survey released this week.
When the first round of this survey was released in early lockdown, just 12 per cent were interested in working from home five days a week. Now, that figure has risen to 27 per cent.
Researchers from the Whitaker Institute at NUI Galway and the Western Development Commission have published summary data from the second phase of the national remote working survey. The remote working study findings inform employers about employee experiences of remote working.
The survey focused on those employees who are currently working fully remotely or a mix of and onsite and remote. The survey gathered responses from more than 5,600 employees six months after lockdown.
Led by Professor Alma McCarthy and Dr Katerina Bohle-Carbonell at NUI Galway, and Tomás Ó Síocháin and Deirdre Frost at Western Development Commission, the survey found that, among those who can work remotely, 94% were in favour of working remotely on an on-going basis for some or all of the time. The majority of those, 54%, said they would like to work remotely several times a week, 27% said five days a week, and 13% said several times a month.
Those who would like to work remotely five days a week (27% ) is more than double those who shared that view in the first national survey conducted by the NUI Galway and the Western Development Commission team in April when it was 12% in the immediate aftermath of the lockdown.
The overwhelming majority (94% ) is a significant increase from the 83% who wanted to work remotely in the April survey. Conversely, only 6% indicated in the second phase that they did not wish to work remotely to any extent – a drop from 16% who gave that response in April. The number of respondents working fully remotely fell from 87% in April to 68% in the first week of October as there was more of a mix of onsite and remote in the latest survey.
'There is a resounding demand from employees to continue to work remotely post-crisis. The remote working experience presents a game-changer for how many organisations will manage their workforce into the future'
23% of respondents said they would consider relocating within Ireland based on their experience of remote working since COVID-19. A further 7% said they had already moved and the West (Galway, Mayo, Roscommon ), the South-west (Cork and Kerry ) and the Mid-West (Clare, Limerick, Tipperary ) were the top regions respondents have relocated to. 16% said they may consider moving, while just over half (54% ) said they would not consider relocating.
Loneliness and isolation, staying motivated and difficulties with the physical workspace were identified as the main challenges to working remotely. These challenges had changed since April, when not being able to switch off from work, collaborating and communicating with colleagues, and poor physical workspace were the main challenges identified.
There was no change to the top three benefits of working remotely; identified as no traffic and no commute, greater flexibility in how to manage the working day and reduced costs of going to work and commuting.
'The information collected in these surveys will help to ensure that the correct measures are in place to support this fundamental shift in the way we work'
Interestingly, in the context of work/life balance, 36% of respondents said that they did not respond to emails outside of working hours. Of all respondents, one in four (26% ) respond because they choose to, while another 26% respond because of workload.
It is important to note that the survey asks about remote work, which includes both working from home and working from another location, for example a hub.
Speaking about the second national survey, Professor Alma McCarthy, Professor of Public Sector Management, J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics, NUI Galway, said: “The second NUI Galway/Western Development Commission national remote working survey has, once again, gained huge interest with over 5,600 responses.
"There is a resounding demand from employees to continue to work remotely post-crisis. The remote working experience presents a game-changer for how many organisations will manage their workforce into the future. For those who can work remotely, they seem to have settled into it quite effectively six months on from lockdown.”
Tomás Ó Síocháin, CEO of the Western Development Commission, said: “The information collected in these surveys will help to ensure that the correct measures are in place to support those working remotely. Identifying the opportunities and challenges will mean that remote working infrastructure such as broadband and remote working hubs, for example, will allow both individuals and communities to minimise the challenges and to make the most of this fundamental shift in the way we work.”
The research team has expedited the analysis of initial summary findings of the second national remote working survey which are available on both NUI Galway’s Whitaker Institute and the Western Development Commission websites. Further publications will be made available. The report and key statistics from the first national survey in April are also available on these websites.
To view both surveys on the Whitaker Institute’s Project page, visit: http://bit.ly/remote-working-survey.