Demand for remote work booms in Ireland and likely to remain post-pandemic – Indeed/OECD study

Jack Kennedy, economist at Indeed, says the preference for remote working raises important long-term questions for businesses

Employers seek to meet employee preferences, with posts for more flexible roles four times higher than pre-pandemic

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1 February 2022 | 0

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Demand for jobs that allow employees to work from home in Ireland has surged during the pandemic and this trend looks set to continue even after last Friday’s dramatic easing of restrictions, according to research conducted by jobs site Indeed and the OECD*.

A study based on Indeed job postings in 20 OECD countries showed searches for jobs in Ireland allowing remote work in December 2021 were six times higher than before the pandemic.

Employers appear to be looking to cater to this trend with posts for remote roles currently four times higher than pre-pandemic. 12.5% of job adverts in Ireland contained remote terms in the job description, compared to just 2.9% in 2019. Government restrictions during the pandemic were clearly a catalyst for this change, but even as restrictions have eased there has not been a commensurate reduction in the level of job ads for remote roles, suggesting this will be a longer-term trend.

The findings on the attractiveness of working from home are supported by recent CSO research** which showed that of those who can work remotely 88% would like to do so when pandemic restrictions are removed: 28% all of the time and 60% favouring a hybrid arrangement.

In the Indeed/OECD research Ireland ranked the second highest in terms of its growth in remote postings, and the study found that countries with the stricter restrictions (Italy, Spain, UK) tended to see the biggest growth relative to those with more limited restrictions (Japan, New Zealand).

The study found that whilst remote work job opportunities have increased across all categories, it has been particularly notable in areas like IT and software development. This may be one factor that explains why the increase in postings for remote/flexible jobs in Dublin was nearly five times (x 4.8) the pre-pandemic level, but closer to two times (x 2.4) for the rest of the country. Dublin has a high density of large technology companies competing to attract staff and accommodating changing worker preferences is one way companies can appeal to new hires.

The study argues that public policy must evolve to try to make the most of the potential positive effects of remote working on productivity and well-being. This may include ensuring that workers have a suitable working environment (e.g., computer equipment, office and childcare facilities), facilitating the spread of managerial best practices (e.g., moving from a culture of presenteeism to a results-based assessment of productivity), or ensuring that everyone has access to a fast, reliable and secure Internet connection (e.g., in rural areas).

“Ireland has seen one of the biggest increases in remote work according to this study, and it is a practice likely to persist even as the pandemic threat recedes,” said Jack Kennedy, economist at Indeed.

“It does, however, raise important long-term questions,” he added. “First, real thought needs to be given to welcoming new employees and spreading corporate culture in a hybrid environment where some staff are in the office and some at home. Secondly, management and leadership style will need to evolve to best transmit knowledge and motivate teams. Finally we must accept that whilst increasing employee flexibility was a trend pre-Covid, the process has been massively accelerated, and on this steep learning curve it is likely that there will be teething problems along the way with company policies needing to adapt and evolve.”

Indeed’s monthly Job Search Survey also showed a slight increase in December in the number of people in Ireland actively seeking a new role to 20.0% compared to 17.9% in November. For those out-of-work and not urgently seeking a new role, the ability to get by on benefits, having a spouse or partner still in work and having caring responsibilities for children or an elderly family member were the three largest reasons cited.

*(Source: Will it stay or will it go? Analysing developments in telework using online job postings data: https://www.oecd.org/publications/will-it-stay-or-will-it-go-analysing-developments-in-telework-during-covid-19-using-online-job-postings-data-aed3816e-en.htm)

**(Source: CSO Pulse Survey – Our Lives Online – Remote Work November 2021: https://www.cso.ie/en/releasesandpublications/fp/fp-psolo/pulsesurvey-ourlivesonline-remoteworknovember2021/)

 

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