Nearly a quarter of the workforce was still working remotely in the third quarter of this year, new figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show.
The agency’s Labour Force Survey employment series also showed that employment in the Irish economy rose by almost 10 per cent or 230,900 between the end of 2019 and the third quarter of 2022, reflecting the rapid recovery in the labour market since the worst of the pandemic.
Those classified as “usually working from home” accounted for 22.5 per cent of people in employment between July and September, compared with 7.3 per cent in the third quarter in 2019.
The figure had jumped as high as 29.9 per cent in the third quarter of last year.
“Working from home means the person worked at home on at least half of days worked in the four weeks prior to interview,” the CSO said.
The CSO said the number of people working from home saw a sharp rise since pre-Covid-19 pandemic levels, increasing from 169,300 in the third quarter of 2019 to 574,100 (+239 per cent) in the third quarter of 2022.
When broken down by region of residence, Dublin had the highest proportion of people employed who usually work from home, increasing from 6.5 per cent in 2019 to 30 per cent in the third quarter of this year, down from 42.4 per cent last year.
This was followed by the mideast, which increased from 6.7 per cent to 23.5 per cent, and the midlands, which increased from 6.2 per cent to 21 per cent in the same reference period.
Border counties had the highest proportion of people “never working from home” at 79.3 per cent in the third quarter of 2022, followed by the west and midwest at 73.6 per cent and 71.7 per cent respectively.
Permanent employment increased by 211,600 (11.9 per cent) to 1.99 million over the three-year period, the CSO said, while temporary employment fell by 17,200 (8.4 per cent) to 188,200 in the same period.
Nine out of every 10 employees (90.5 per cent) were in permanent employment, with women accounting for 46.3 per cent, a slight increase from 45.8 per cent in 2019. The pandemic triggered greater women’s participation in the workforce, a trend linked to the increase in remote working.
Countries with higher levels of women’s empowerment tend to be more productive and therefore more prosperous. At the height of the Celtic Tiger boom in 2007-08, the level of women’s participation in the Irish workforce reached 57.6 per cent before falling in the immediate aftermath of the crash. The pandemic had appeared to change this pattern, however.
In 2020 and 2021, women’s participation here increased by 3.5 percentage points to stand at a record 59.8 per cent (male participation is typically about 70 per cent).
The survey also noted a dramatic rise in the number of people classifying their primary role as “student” working since before the pandemic. Numbers are up by 45 per cent from the 85,700 who were in employment pre-Covid. Those numbers initially fell to 68,100 in the third quarter of 2020 during the first Covid peak before almost doubling to 134,400 last year and dipping by 10,000 this year.