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National Remote Working Survey April 2021

Click to download headline findings for the Employee Survey Infographic & click to download the Team Manager Survey Infographic

Second Annual National Remote Working Survey Shows 95% In Favour of Working Remotely

Survey led by NUI Galway and the Western Development Commission shows that 47% of team managers find no difference between managing their team remotely compared to onsite while 44% say it is more difficult to manage the team remotely

Researchers from the Whitaker Institute at NUI Galway and the Western Development Commission have published summary data from the second annual national remote working survey in Ireland. The survey gathered responses from over 6,400 employees examining their experience of remote working one year after lockdown. This is the first national survey to attain managers’ views of the impact of remote work on their team. Over 2,100 managers gave their views on managing teams remotely and their plans for remote work post pandemic.

Led by Professor Alma McCarthy and Noreen O’Connor at NUI Galway, and Tomás Ó Síocháin and Deirdre Frost at Western Development Commission, the survey found that, among those who could work remotely, 95% were in favour of working remotely on an on-going basis to some extent. The majority of those, 53%, said they would like to work remotely several times a week, 32% said they would like to work fully remotely and 10% several times a month. Those who would like to work fully remotely (32%) has increased substantially from the first national survey conducted by the NUI Galway and the Western Development Commission team in April 2020 when it was 12% in the immediate aftermath of the lockdown.

The overwhelming majority (95%) is a significant increase from the 83% who wanted to continue to work remotely for some or all of the time in the 2020 survey. Conversely, only 5% indicated that they did not wish to work remotely to any extent – a drop from 16% who gave that response a year ago. The number of respondents working fully remotely fell from 87% in April 2020 to 75% at the end of April 2021 as there was more of a mix of onsite and remote (20%) in the latest survey.

24% of respondents said they would consider relocating based on their experience of remote working since COVID-19. A further 9% said they had already moved and the West (Galway, Mayo, Roscommon), the South-west (Cork and Kerry) and the Border (Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Monaghan and Sligo) were the top regions respondents have relocated to. 14% said they may consider moving, while just over half (53%) said they would not consider relocating.

The top three advantages of working remotely are: greater flexibility, makes life easier, and increases productivity. Interestingly, in the context of work-life balance, 51% of respondents said that they work more hours when they work remotely compared to working onsite while 45% say they work the same hours.

It is interesting to note that 44% of team manager respondents believe that remote working positively impacts the productivity of their team while the same proportion (44%) believe that remote working makes no difference to the team’s productivity. 12% believe remote working negatively impacts their team’s productivity. Three-quarters of organisations had not decided how their teams will work post pandemic. Of the 25% who had decided, 78% will work to a hybrid model. 36% of organisations who have decided to work to a hybrid model expect employees to be onsite for two days a week and 23% said three days a week.

45% of team managers believe they did not get the training required to manage their team remotely while 36% indicated they received basic training. One in five (19%) reported that they received sufficient training.

Speaking about the second annual national survey, Professor Alma McCarthy, Head of the J.E. Cairnes School of Business & Economics, NUI Galway, said: “The second annual NUI Galway/Western Development Commission national remote working survey has, once again, gained huge interest with over 6,400 responses. We added a new module asking questions about managing teams remotely for those who have people management responsibilities. To our knowledge, the latter forms the first national survey to gather information about team manager perspectives. It is interesting to see that the appetite for fully remote or hybrid working is the preference of the vast majority of respondents.”

Tomás Ó Síocháin, CEO of the Western Development Commission, said: “The findings of the national survey indicate that there is a clear appetite to continue to work remotely. This will mean significant change for the way in which people work and the way that organisations support that work. The rollout of the National Hubs Network of more than 400 hubs will offer a suitable workplace close to home. A key challenge for leaders in organisations will be ensuring that people that choose to work remotely are treated equally in terms of development and promotional opportunities.”

The research team has expedited the analysis of initial summary findings of the second annual national remote working survey which are available on both NUI Galway’s Whitaker Institute and the Western Development Commission websites. Further publications will be made available. The report and key statistics from the first national survey in April 2020 are also available on these websites.