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When are Irish companies planning a return to workplaces?

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In a new Ibec survey, 81pc of respondents said they expect some form of hybrid working in their organisation following Covid-19.

If Government guidelines allow, almost 80pc of organisations could be back in the office by September 2021.

That’s according to the latest report from Ibec, which surveyed senior HR contacts in 370 organisations.

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The survey found that 29pc of respondents expect to return to the workplace by September, with another 21pc expecting to be fully back within the next three months. More than a quarter (28pc) of respondents said they will plan their return to the workplace in line with Government guidelines.

With this in mind, Ibec CEO Danny McCoy said clarity is needed from the Government on the timing of graduated workplace reopening.

“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,” he said.

Hybrid working

Ibec’s report also highlighted the manner in which many companies plan to bring employees back to the workplace, with 81pc of respondents expecting some form of hybrid working arrangement after the pandemic.

One in five organisations expect employees to work three days on site as part of hybrid working plans, and an additional 13pc are expecting to work on site two days a week.

Seven out of 10 respondents cited an increase in training for line managers in regard to managing flexibility over the next two to three years, while investment in technology to support remote collaboration is expected to increase at more than half of organisations.

“Almost three-quarters of companies (74pc) say that the use of hybrid working will increase in their organisations over the next two to three years,” said McCoy.

“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 said.

A report last week from the National Competitiveness and Productivity Council said remote working opportunities could offer a better quality of life for people in Ireland, as well as economic, social and environmental benefits for businesses. However, it warned that investments are needed to make sure Ireland remains competitive with attractive places to live and work.

Earlier this year, the Government published Ireland’s first National Remote Work Strategy, which includes plans for a right to disconnect and investments in infrastructure.

It also launched a five-year rural strategy at the end of March, with a particular focus on enabling remote working in rural communities, revitalising town centres and rolling out broadband.

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