New research from UK-based recruiter Robert Walters shows that Ireland was one of the best countries in the world at transitioning to remote working during lockdown.
The research reveals insights gathered from 2,000 global firms and over 5,500 professionals on what the key outcomes and learnings have been from the last few months of remote working.
On March 27, Ireland was placed on ‘full lockdown’ in a bid to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Measures included limiting outdoor exercise to within 2km of your own home, shopping trips for necessities only, and travel to work – but only for those who were not able to work from home.
The overnight changes caused instant disruption to businesses and employers, and led to the biggest remote working experiment in history for the professional and white-collar sector.
It was a smooth relocation for almost all, the research found. Companies all over the world acted fast to initiate remote working programmes. For most of them, the transition was seamless, with a global average of 47% of firms moving employees to a remote work environment within two days and only 61% taking more than a week.
Ireland experienced an even more drastic change - where just 25% of businesses stated their workforce were able to entirely work remotely pre-lockdown. This sky-rocketed amid COVID-19, with 82% of firms being able to push the button on remote working in less than a week.
Of the 82% who were able to do this under 7 days, 66% of these firms were able to transition their staff to remote working in less than 48 hours in Ireland.
It seems workplaces weren’t the only ones who were happy with the smooth transition, with 73% of Irish staff describing their relocation to homeworking as seamless and 89% being satisfied with their homeworking set-up.
It would also appear we are more productive at home. Almost half (44%) of Irish professionals stated that their productivity has increased since remote working began, and a fifth (18%) of Irish employers agree that work output has improved.
Commute time (73%), more flex in hours (64%), less distractions (58%) and fewer meetings (42%) were the leading reasons why productivity increased when working from home.
As a result, an overwhelming 93% would like to factor in more remote working post-lockdown, with 11% stating that they would like to work from home permanently.
When asked what changes employees expect to the future workplace, they stated more flexibility to work from home (89%), more autonomy and trust (39%), and changes to work hours (16%).
However, despite the unanimous agreement that productivity increased during lockdown, companies are still dubious about allowing more remote working once social distancing measures ease - citing concerns about employee productivity (64%), senior leadership preferring traditional ways of working (57%), and manager’s ability to oversee virtual teams (33%) as the main reasons for not wanting to continue with remote working.