The Government published a report last week which assesses and evaluates the impacts of remote working on the Irish economy and society, as well as building on the goals set out in the National Remote Work Strategy. The full evaluation report can be found here.
The report assessed remote working in the context of the labour market, productivity, regional development and the associated financial implications.
Some key findings in the report include:
Labour market: Remote working should improve labour market outcomes across the board. Employees recognise the benefits that greater flexibility brings in terms of commuting options, childcare and time management. It also improves labour market outcomes for people with disabilities and caring responsibilities. However, it is important that employers do not use remote working to avoid providing required workplace provisions for people with disabilities.
Productivity: According to the report, it likely that remote working boosts productivity in many occupations but that it reduces it in others. Because of this, individual employers and workers must make decisions as to whether they believe they are more productive working remotely. The report highlights some of the benefits including increased employee wellbeing and reduced stress, reduced employee sickness and fewer distractions such as unnecessary interruptions or meetings.
Regional development: The report found evidence to suggest that housing demand in more rural regions outstripped that of cities in 2021, which is one of the factors driving increased house prices and rent. If this shift to rural continues, ensuring workers in all regions have access to fast and reliable broadband connections will be particularly important for policymakers.
There could also be implications for labour markets with skilled, high-paying remote roles dispersed across the country, bringing with them their spending on consumer service industries such as retail, hospitality, cleaning, or transportation.
In terms of environmental benefits, the report states that emissions savings made from reduced transport usage are likely to exceed any extra household emissions, leading to net environmental gains from remote working. It is estimated that remote working has the potential to save 164,407 tonnes of CO2 a year, with an equivalent monetary saving of €7.6m.
Finances: The report found that remote working could mean significant cost savings for employees, and that any increases in household heating and electricity costs are likely to be outweighed by a reduction in commuting costs.
Annual increases of €79 are estimated for heating and €30 for electricity, with potential savings from reduced commuting estimated at €413. A saving on average of 93 hours per year was noted, through reduced commuting. This equates to an equivalent monetary benefit of €1,103.
There are some cost savings for businesses in terms of scaling down office space and the report references studies that indicate a saving of approx. €1,492 per employee per annum.
In terms of the public finances, while the report states it is unknown at this time what the impact of remote working will be on the Exchequer, it outlines potential costs of €200m per year. This comes from a reduction in ‘corrective’ tax receipts, such as excise duties.
Overall, the report finds that remote working is having a positive impact on the Irish economy and society, and notes that there is evidence to show that employers are planning to increase the levels of remote working when compared to pre-pandemic levels. The report also finds that for most remote workers and firms, the benefits are likely to outweigh the costs. It also advises that the impacts of remote working are monitored on an ongoing basis as more data and evidence becomes available.
The Right to Request Remote Working Bill is expected to be enacted by the summer and the Work-Life Balance Bill is expected to be passed ahead of the summer recess. Given this changing legal landscape and the likely increase in remote and other flexible working requests from employees looking for more of a work-life balance, it is critical that employers review their businesses to determine what types of remote and/or other flexible ways of working are suitable for their business model or for certain roles within their Company.
Expert advice & support is available
If you are considering Remote or Other Flexible Ways of Working for your business and require guidance and support to develop appropriate policies and procedures, or to respond to employee requests in this regard, the expert-led team at Adare Human Resource Management is on hand to help.
Please contact us at:
Dublin Office: (01) 561 3594 | Cork Office: (021) 486 1420 | Shannon Office: (061) 363 805
firstname.lastname@example.org | www.adarehrm.ie