Covid has changed business permanently, most Irish CEOs say

Ability to collaborate, absenteeism and drop in sales cited as key challenges

On Friday, the Government published plans for new legislation to be introduced later this year to give workers the right to request remote working from their employer. Photograph: iStock

On Friday, the Government published plans for new legislation to be introduced later this year to give workers the right to request remote working from their employer. Photograph: iStock

 

Almost two-thirds of Irish chief executives say the coronavirus crisis will lead to a permanent change of their business models, according to a survey carried out by business lobby group Ibec.

The survey of 381 chief executives, carried out in December, found that 73 per cent cited the impact of Covid-19 on collaboration and innovation as a challenge for their organisation. Some 72 per cent highlighted challenges they face in bringing employees back into the office following the pandemic.

Half of the companies polled said sales decreased throughout the period of coronavirus restrictions last year, before the State went into another lockdown over the Christmas period. While 51 per cent said employee absenteeism from work remained unchanged as much of the workforce switched to working from home, 29 per cent saw an increase.

“In 2021, Irish business will have to deal with a much-altered landscape in both local and global terms, as the new post-Brexit reality continues to take shape and Covid disruptions endure,” said Ibec chief executive Danny McCoy.

“The findings show that despite these challenges, CEOs are looking beyond this disruptive period that we find ourselves in, that they are buoyed by the prospect of the widespread availability of a vaccine in the coming months and are now planning accordingly.”

On Friday, the Government published plans for new legislation to be introduced later this year to give workers the right to request remote working from their employer. The planned laws will also introduce a legally admissible code of practice on employees’ right to disconnect after the work day, covering emails, phone calls and switch-off time.

Meanwhile, the Ibec survey found that 88 per cent of respondents cited global economic headwinds and 73 per cent the ongoing Covid-19 crisis in identifying the main challenges posed in 2021.

Some 78 per cent said that the availability of specific skills and talent and 50 per cent cited the low-carbon transition agenda as key concerns this year.

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