Two-thirds of employers want blended working

16% pf businesses have simply not yet formalised policies for these arrangements

Once again employers and employees throughout the country are being encouraged to work from home in order to stem the spread of COVID 19.

However, 2022 should see the resumption of the staggered return to the office for the Irish workforce, and a survey from the newly rebranded Compliance Institute (formerly the Association of Compliance Officers of Ireland) has found that even when employees are free to return, a hybrid model is most likely to be adopted by the majority of employers.

Most organisations (67%) say those employees working from home will still need to visit the office at least once a week, with 53% of these saying they’ll have to be there 2 or 3 days a week.

The survey of over 280 organisations, answered by Compliance Institute members with responsibility for compliance in large organisations throughout the country, also found that over a quarter (28%) of employees will need to be near enough to the office so that they can commute every week, while more than 3 in 10 organisations will allow their employees to work remotely from anywhere in the country.

Speaking on the findings, Michael Kavanagh, CEO of the Compliance Institute, saying: “We have reached another roadblock in terms of workers returning to the office, but we are all hoping that the advice will change at some stage in the New Year. When this happens, there is likely to be something of a trial period for many organisations as they figure out the best way to accommodate their staff’s changed situations, needs, and preferences. Our survey indicates that a ‘hybrid’ model, with a mix of home and office work, is likely to be the most preferable option – 53%. This makes sense given the workplace health precautions that we still need to take in relation to COVID, with reduced numbers and staggered in-office days helping with social distancing and other protocols.”

But Mr Kavanagh recognises this will be not a one size that fits all model for organisations across the board, and some (16%) businesses have simply not yet formalised the policies for these arrangements.

He also points to where the survey did show however, that, in the main, most employers are happy to adopt some element of remote working into their operations – and working from home will no longer be an option for just 4% of those surveyed.

Remote Working – but from where?

The Compliance Institute survey further asked respondents whether their organisation planned to allow employees to work remotely at off-site locations.

The survey revealed that more than 3 in 10 say employees can work anywhere in the country, with 5% saying they could even work outside of Ireland. 28% say they are open to people working from home so long as they can commute to the office when needed. 38% say that where a person works from has yet to be decided or will be managed on a case-by-case basis.

Mr. Kavanagh continued: “Remote working has the potential to become a contentious issue among workers and employers alike as efforts are made to marry the needs and desires of workers with the goals and best interests of the businesses. The pandemic has changed many people’s live/work situation as well as their goals and ambitions, and so patience and communication will be required by both employers and employees to figure out workable solutions and compromises in the months ahead.”

He adds that questions will need to be asked such as whether it tenable to keep renting office or commercial space when a large portion of your staff are working from home, from an alternative location, or abroad. “Will employee retention become an issue if remote working is not allowed? There are many elements to weigh up.”