Some three in four companies have not changed the size of their office footprint despite most offering remote and hybrid working arrangements, according to research by commercial property group Savills Ireland.
The research also suggests that about half of employers require workers to be present in the office for two or three days a week.
Unsurprisingly, Mondays and Fridays were the least popular day for office occupancy, with employers recording attendance of 10 per cent or lower. Wednesday was the most popular day of the week for employees to work from the office, with employers recording an average occupancy rate of 61-70 per cent.
The survey of 500 Dublin office-based businesses, which was conducted with Dublin Chamber, suggests that while 76 per cent have not changed their office footprint, 17 per cent of companies have decreased it, while 7 per cent have increased it.
Staff retention and recruitment is the main reason employers continue to offer remote and hybrid working arrangements.
However, three in four companies said their main concern around remote and hybrid working is that it makes it more difficult for them to cultivate a positive team culture. More than three in five said their main worry was that such arrangements make the onboarding of new staff harder. Three in five firms said their main concern is staff isolation or mental health.
More than four in five firms said in-person engagement with colleagues was a top driver in encouraging employees to return to work onsite; followed by benefits such as meeting with friends after work, and shopping or attending events (40 per cent).
Dublin Chamber chief executive Mary Rose Burke said remote and hybrid working has its advantages, “particularly its ability to open up opportunities in the workforce for those who may have struggled to participate in it before”.
“However, high employee expectations around hybrid and remote working have put pressure on many employers to continue offering remote and hybrid working options despite the potential misalignment with operational demands,” she said. “This has led to challenges such as loss of company culture, individualistic, rather than team-based, approaches to working, digital presenteeism, and several firms facing difficulties training new recruits.”
The research also uncovered widespread apprehension of the new legislation on the right to request remote work, which is currently before the Seanad and due to be finalised shortly. Many companies are concerned about the administrative and HR burden which might arise from this new legislation.
Andrew Cunningham, director and head of offices at Savills Ireland, said: “What organisations need from their premises now differs significantly from what they needed 10 or even five years ago. The research highlights the importance of a well-located office space – given that so many are motivated to return to the office to meet friends, shop or attend events – and this can be seen in the official take-up figures.
“Remote, hybrid and flexible working is now commonplace in most industries. However, the office will continue to be the epicentre of business activity and a hub for learning, collaboration, and collegiality – no business can survive without this.”