The ibec report suggests that most companies will return to the workplace by September. Photo: Arlington Research

Most business expect return to workplaces by September

On the week that all retail re-opened in Ireland, a new survey on business was released too.

It revealed that many different businesses are beginning to prepare for a gradual return to workplaces for employees in the coming weeks and months.

Ibec which represents Irish business say their survey findings reaffirm the urgent need for Government to provide clarity and timelines to support businesses in safely returning staff to the workplace. It suggests that more than three-quarters of businesses expect to return to the workplace by September.

Ibec CEO Danny McCoy said: “Clarity from Government on the timing of graduated workplace reopening is now key for companies in order to reignite collaboration, culture and confidence in their workforce. The Government’s roadmap must be aligned with an ongoing review of reopening timelines that reflects the risk reduction that the vaccine programme is delivering. This means a potential earlier gradual return to workplaces than the previously flagged expected return time of September.

“Over a quarter of respondents (28 per cent) will plan their return to the workplace in line with Government advice and/or the finalisation of the vaccination rollout. A similar proportion (29 per cent) expect to return in September 2021 and one in five organisations expect to be fully back in the workplace within the next three months (21 per cent). Therefore, if Government guidelines provide for it, it seems likely that 78 per cent of respondent organisations could be returned to the workplace by September of this year,” he said.

Other key findings from the survey include:

74 per cent of respondents have adopted some form of hybrid working over the past 12 months. 20 per cent had all employees working remotely while 4 per cent had all employees working onsite. Other arrangements applied in 2 per cent of respondent organisations.

Half of respondents said that for an initial period they will limit business travel both locally and internationally. Just under a fifth said that they would do this indefinitely.

45 per cent will stagger employee teams to ensure social distancing for a period, while 18 per cent will do this indefinitely.

The survey also asked businesses to look to the next two-three years post-Covid:

70 per cent believe they will adopt new ways of working to facilitate flexibility. 61 per cent believe that they will make permanent changes to support better public health in the workplace.

55 per cent will place greater focus on employee output rather than presence.

“In recent years we have witnessed emerging trends towards more flexible and remote working. Our survey results confirm that Covid has accelerated this trend, with four out of five respondent companies stating that they will operate a hybrid model of remote and onsite work to a degree when their offices reopen. 15 per cent of respondents will ask all staff to return onsite fully and 4 per cent will keep their staff remote working on a full-time basis.

“Almost three quarters of companies (74 per cent) say that the use of hybrid working will increase in their organisations over the next two-three years.

“While these trends signal the need for increased ambition in the delivery of necessary infrastructure such as remote working hubs, alignment with childcare facilities, and the National Broadband Plan, first and foremost Government must outline to organisations how and when they can begin efforts to gradually return their staff safely to the office,” he added.

He also said that the rapid return of office workers will be crucial to support many businesses that rely on office worker footfall for their survival.

More from this Topic