Phase II of the Remote Working Survey – October 2020

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Second Phase of National Remote Working Employee Survey Shows 94% In Favour of Working Remotely for Some or All of the Time

Survey led by NUI Galway and the Western Development Commission shows that 23% of respondents would consider relocating, while 7% have already moved.

Researchers from the Whitaker Institute at NUI Galway and the Western Development Commission have published summary data from the second phase of the national remote working survey. The remote working study findings inform employers about employee experiences of remote working. The survey focused on those employees who are currently working fully remotely or a mix of onsite and remote.  The survey gathered responses from more than 5,600 employees six months after lockdown.

Led by Professor Alma McCarthy and Dr Katerina Bohle-Carbonell at NUI Galway, and Tomás Ó Síocháin and Deirdre Frost at Western Development Commission, the survey found that, among those who can work remotely, 94% were in favour of working remotely on an on-going basis for some or all of the time.  The majority of those, 54%, said they would like to work remotely several times a week, 27% said five days a week and 13% said several times a month.

Those who would like to work remotely five days a week (27%) is more than double those who shared that view in the first national survey conducted by the NUI Galway and the Western Development Commission team in April when it was 12% in the immediate aftermath of the lockdown.

The overwhelming majority (94%) is a significant increase from the 83% who wanted to work remotely in the April survey. Conversely, only 6% indicated in the second phase that they did not wish to work remotely to any extent – a drop from 16% who gave that response in April. The number of respondents working fully remotely fell from 87% in April to 68% in the first week of October as there was more of a mix of onsite and remote in the latest survey.

23% of respondents said they would consider relocating within Ireland based on their experience of remote working since COVID-19. A further 7% said they had already moved and the West (Galway, Mayo, Roscommon), the South-west (Cork and Kerry) and the Mid-West (Clare, Limerick, Tipperary) were the top regions respondents have relocated to. 16% said they may consider moving, while just over half (54%) said they would not consider relocating.

Loneliness and isolation, staying motivated and difficulties with the physical workspace were identified as the main challenges to working remotely. These challenges had changed since April, when not being able to switch off from work, collaborating and communicating with colleagues and poor physical workspace were the main challenges identified.

There was no change to the top three benefits of working remotely; identified as no traffic and no commute, greater flexibility in how to manage the working day and reduced costs of going to work and commuting. Interestingly, in the context of work/life balance, 36% of respondents said that they did not respond to emails outside of working hours. Of all respondents, one in four (26%) respond because they choose to, while another 26% respond because of workload.

It is important to note that the survey asks about remote work, which includes both working from home and working from another location, for example a hub.

Speaking about the second national survey, Professor Alma McCarthy, Professor of Public Sector Management, J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics, NUI Galway, said: “The second NUI Galway/Western Development Commission national remote working survey has, once again, gained huge interest with over 5,600 responses. There is a resounding demand from employees to continue to work remotely post-crisis. The remote working experience presents a game-changer for how many organisations will manage their workforce into the future.  For those who can work remotely, they seem to have settled into it quite effectively six months on from lockdown.”

Tomás Ó Síocháin, CEO of the Western Development Commission, said: “The information collected in these surveys will help to ensure that the correct measures are in place to support those working remotely. Identifying the opportunities and challenges will mean that remote working infrastructure such as broadband and remote working hubs, for example, will allow both individuals and communities to minimise the challenges and to make the most of this fundamental shift in the way we work.”

The research team has expedited the analysis of initial summary findings of the second 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 are also available on these websites.

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Phase I of the Remote Working Survey – April 2020

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Background and Rationale

The COVID-19 crisis catapulted hundreds of thousands of employees and their employers into a work pattern and routine vastly different to their normal daily work experience.  This radical change happened suddenly and for the vast majority the change effectively occurred overnight.

While some employees had experience of remote working, many found themselves operating remote working without any time to plan, negotiate, organise and set-up remote working in conjunction with their employer and manager.

Researchers from the Whitaker Institute and the Western Development Commission (WDC) undertook a national survey to gather data on employees’ experiences of remote working during COVID-19.

Survey Objectives

The survey gathered empirical evidence and data to address the following questions:

  1. How are employees adjusting to remote working, what is going well and what changes would employees suggest?
  2. How is remote working impacting employee productivity?
  3. What are employees remote working preferences post-COVID-19?
  4. What lessons can be learned about remote working that could be retained/sustained post-COVID-19?

Survey Methodology and Response

The national survey was conducted between 27th April and 5th May 2020 using the online Qualtrics survey platform.  The survey was designed by the research team at NUI Galway and the Western Development Commission.  The survey included a mix of quantitative questions, Likert-scale questions, and open-ended free-text qualitative questions.

A total of 7,241 usable responses were received by 5th May 2020 from a wide range of industries and sectors across Ireland.  A number of responses were removed from the database as they were completed by respondents outside of the island of Ireland or were incomplete.  The report is available above.

Research team

This project is being led by Prof Alma McCarthy, Prof Alan Ahearne and Dr Katerina Bohle-Carbonell at NUI Galway and Tomás Ó Síocháin and Deirdre Frost at WDC.

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Project Partners

For more information

If you would like more information about this project please contact Prof Alma McCarthy