Almost 70% of surveyed workers hope for a post-pandemic “new normal” of hybrid work arrangements
A new survey of Irish remote workers conducted by leading sectoral representative body, Digital Business Ireland (DBI) paints a picture of a workforce who are continuing to progress in their professional lives but are facing stresses from social isolation and not having access to suitable workstations.
The survey found that almost half of Irish remote workers, at 49%, feel that the switch to remote working has neither helped nor hindered their career progression, with a further 31% believing that the change has aided their professional advancement. Furthermore, 78% of respondents were of the view that the change to remote working had not adversely impacted the profile of their company, with some commenting that it had helped it grow in prominence.
While few professional careers may have been derailed by the great remote working experiment, Irish workers are still under considerable stress, with social isolation, at 36%, being most commonly named as the greatest challenge faced due to work-from-home arrangements. Employees feel their collaboration with colleagues has suffered, with a combined 67% of the view that it has been damaged by at least a moderate amount, a figure that includes 24% who believe it has deteriorated by “a great deal”. Even more worryingly, 36% of respondents said their mental health or mood had worsened since the switch to remote working took place. Workers are also dealing with unsatisfactory workstations, with 21%, the second highest figure, listing it as the greatest challenge they are facing while working from home.
Unsurprisingly given these findings, 69% of respondents said they would like to see a hybrid remote and in-office work option to be offered by their employer once the pandemic is over. Meanwhile, a further 17% would like to continue working remotely full-time. It appears therefore, that employers will face an uphill battle if they try to return to pre-pandemic working arrangements after the current remote working mandate expires.
Commenting on the results of the survey, Secretary-General of Digital Business Ireland, Lorraine Higgins, said:
“Given we have passed the one-year mark since the mass switch to remote working took place, at DBI, we thought it was crucial to get an accurate picture of the impact this massive change is having on the way we work.”
“It is encouraging to learn that the overwhelming majority feel that their professional prospects have not been damaged since they began working from home. However, with Covid-19 restrictions set to continue for some months to come, policymakers and businesses should take note of the worrying statistics on social isolation, mental health difficulties and damage to workplace collaboration, and explore further ways to support workers in the weeks ahead.”
“I would also highlight the striking support for a “new normal” in working arrangements beyond the pandemic – only 11% of workers would like to return to the status quo from before the crisis.”
Some companies across Ireland are taking a progressive approach to remote working, adapting and evolving their ways of working to support colleagues’ wellbeing and career development in a pandemic and post-pandemic world.
Permanent TSB is an example of a company putting this into practice as they have introduced a range of solutions from on-site/off-site hybrid working arrangements for implementation post-Covid to hubs in key locations across the country. Wellbeing has also been a key area of focus for the Bank throughout the pandemic with a range of new wellbeing supports on offer, as well as employee assistance programmes and a focus on leadership behaviours for colleagues at all levels.
Commenting on the approach, Karen Hackett Head of People Experience at Permanent TSB said; “We have taken learnings from our response to Covid and applied them to a new way of working that meets the needs of our colleagues and our customers, while ensuring that we can maintain a focus on collaboration and inclusion for all.”
“We have introduced new online collaboration tools, new remote working arrangements, along with developing our own remote working tips which are available on our social media channels.”
“We have also put in place a range of engagement supports to ensure colleagues feel supported and connected in a remote environment. We will continue to adapt and evolve our model into the future to ensure that it is fit for purpose in a post-pandemic world while protecting the community culture of Permanent TSB.”