The vast majority of people would like to continue working remotely after the COVID-19 crisis has passed a new survey from NUIG has revealed.
A survey by researchers at NUIG and the Western Development Commission found that 83% of people expressed interest in continuing working remotely after restrictions are lifted.
Of those surveyed, 51% had no experience working remotely prior to this, and of those, 78% expressed an interest in continuing to do so.
The survey was led by Professors Alma McCarthy and Alan Ahearne, and Dr Katerina Bohle-Carbonell at NUI Galway, and Tomás Ó Síocháin and Deirdre Frost at WDC.
These are the initial findings from the national survey of 7,241 individuals across a wide range of industries and sectors over a one-week week period in April-May 2020.
Professor Alma McCarthy said that the preferences people have shown in this survey will help with maintaining social distancing as we move through the opening up phases.
Though it took a pandemic to bring this idea to the forefront, there are many benefits to not having to commute into the office every day, regardless of the circumstances.
“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.
She added that a “mind set” change is needed among employers in terms of managing work, and this crisis provides the perfect opportunity to undertake this.
The top three challenges of working remotely included: Not being able to switch off from work; harder to communicate and collaborate with colleagues and co-workers; and poor physical workspace.
The top three benefits included: no traffic and no commute; reduced costs of going to work and commuting; and greater flexibility as to how to manage the working day.
Breaking down people’s answers, 12% said they would like to continue working remotely on a daily basis, while 16% said they had no interest in continuing to work from home.
37% of respondents said that their productivity remained roughly the same while working from home, 30% said they were more productive, and 25% said their productivity was down.
CEO of the Western Development Commission Tomás Ó Síocháin said “Just over half, 51%, would like to work from their home, with the balance seeking a mix of home, a hub/work-sharing space and the office.
“The preference of working from home or close to home in a hub/work-sharing space will allow individuals a better balance of work and home and generate and sustain economic activity in rural and regional areas.”
People suggested a number of improvements that their managers and employers should make regarding remote working at present:
- Provision of better and more ergonomic physical workspace including provision of a good (ergonomic) chair, provision of printer, and better screens.
- Better management of video-conference meetings
- Reduce expectations and workload to more realistic levels
- Regular communication and check-ins
- Ensure provision of well-being supports
- More flexibility in terms of hours of work to cater for caring responsibilities at this time.