It’s been a steep learning curve.
But as Ireland gets to grips with the new normal and phased business reopenings continue, a new survey reveals that employers are developing strategies for bringing people back to the workplace.
According to a survey from recruiter Robert Walters, 62% of employers are planning to stagger return to work based on employees’ own health risks related to COVID-19, whilst 49% will be staggering employees return depending on how critical their role is to the business.
The next most popular strategy is the creation of smaller workgroups (46%), followed by a voluntary return scheme (41%), changing work hours (35%), and splitting shifts (35%).
A third (32%) of Irish businesses have stated that they will base their return-to-work strategy on local infection rates, while 29% of companies have admitted to not yet considering what their return to work strategy may be.
Remote working is a big hit
The majority (93%) of Irish employees would like more opportunities to work from home post-return, with 11% stating that they would like to work from home permanently.
Not everyone in the office agrees this is the best way forward, however; while 79% of firms have stated that the experience of COVID-19 will encourage business heads to have employees to work from home more often, they also cite concerns over employee productivity (64%), senior leadership preferring traditional ways of working (57%), and the nature of the business e.g. face-to-face sales (36%), as the key barriers to achieving this.
Cost-saving remains at the core of business strategy, with a reduction in office space (50%), and a reduction in travel budgets by switching to virtual meetings (47%) being the key tactics considered by companies.
“It is too early to tell whether cost-saving tactics will result in a reduction in salaries or bonuses, but any freeze of the sort will likely be compensated by the increase in softer benefits such as flexi-hours, wellbeing perks, and remote working,” said Suzanne Feeney, Director at Robert Walters Ireland.
“A return to office brings about many perks, including social inclusion, better workplace collaboration, a separation of home life, and a reinforcement of company values.
“What employers need to do is merge the perks of office-life with what people have been enjoying about working from home; for example – flexi-hours, a relaxed atmosphere, and avoidance of busy commute times.”