RESEARCH involving two Clare natives has provided further insight into how remote working can support balanced regional development and revitalise rural communities.
Among the findings of the third annual National Remote Working Survey is the fact that this county ranks inside the top ten locations for workers who have relocated since the pandemic. Clare was the seventh most popular destination for those relocating.
The potential offered by remote working had prompted 4.4% of those relocating to opt for County Clare. Of the survey respondents still considering moving, Clare was the tenth most popular choice.
The study was led by Labasheeda native, Professor Alma McCarthy and Noreen O’Connor at NUI Galway; as well as Quin’s Tomás Ó Síocháin and Deirdre Frost at the Western Development Commission (WDC).
The survey gathered responses from more than 8,400 employees, in late April and early May, on their current experience of remote working. While more than half of respondents (58%) had never worked remotely before the pandemic, over three-quarters (76%) either agreed or strongly agreed that working remotely makes their job easier. The vast majority (95%) either agreed or strongly agreed that working remotely makes their life easier.
Of those who could work remotely, just over half (52%) were currently working hybrid; 40% fully remotely, while only 8% were fully on-site
The lasting impact of the pandemic on work patterns is further demonstrated by the fact that if their future remote preferences are not facilitated, 30% of all respondents indicated that they would change job. Around one-third (33%) indicated they may change jobs even if it meant a pay cut.
More than one-third (37%) indicated that they will change job, while more than a quarter (27%) indicated they are open to the possibility of changing jobs, even if it means fewer promotion opportunities, if their future remote working preferences were not facilitated.
Almost half (49%) of all respondents clock up more hours while remote working, compared to working on-site. Just 6% reported working fewer hours, while 45% estimated that they work the same number of hours.
The reduction in commuting time was given over to work in many cases. Thirty percent of respondents indicated they spent 30 minutes to one hour of the time they saved commuting working. Twenty seven percent spent up to half an hour, while 14% spent between an hour and an hour-and-a-half.
Almost half (49%) believe remote working has no impact on opportunities for promotion, with around one-third (33%) not yet knowing the impact. Nine percent believe there is a positive impact while another 9% believe there is a negative impact on promotion opportunities.
Commenting on the findings, Minister for Rural and Community Affairs, Heather Humphreys noted the positive potential of remote working. “The Government’s Rural Development Policy, Our Rural Future, clearly recognises the vital role that remote working can play in achieving balanced regional development,” she said. “At a time when there are labour market shortages, remote working can help companies attract and retain talent.
“So much excellent work has been done in the last few years to support remote workers and employers – these survey results will build on that work, providing up-to-date information on remote working experience of employees. I have no doubt that this will help enable us to make the right decisions at this crucial time.”
Professor McCarthy, Head of the JE Cairnes School of Business and Economics at NUI Galway, said: “The third annual NUI Galway/Western Development Commission national remote working survey has, once again, gained huge interest with more than 8,400 responses.
“We added a new module asking if remote working was a key factor in changing employer and career decision making. It is interesting to see that of those who changed employer since the outbreak of Covid-19, nearly half – 47% – indicated that remote working was a key factor in their decision to change employer.”
Mr Ó Síocháin, Chief Executive of the WDC, noted that employers are now responding to staff preferences.
“The findings of the latest national survey highlight a further change in the way we view remote working and indicate that Irish workers expect to continue working remotely either all of the time or to find a balance in line with their lifestyle,” he said.
“Leaders will now be challenged to look at ways of supporting their staff and find that balance to avoid retention issues. The ConnectedHubs.ie network now with over 230 hubs onboard across the country can play a key role offering a suitable workplace close to home, a space for offsite meetups and an opportunity for companies to cut down on their carbon footprint.”
The report can be viewed at Whitakerinstitute.ie.