The majority of Irish workers would like a mix of working from home and being in the office or workplace, a new survey has indicated.
The study by Amarách Research for the trade union, Fórsa, found that 86 per cent of respondents were interested in working remotely.
Over 80 per cent of those who favour home working expressed a preference for a hybrid arrangement where they blend time worked remotely and in the workplace.
The coronavirus has dramatically changed the way employees live and work with thousands now working from home for the first time.
As a result, many companies are actively exploring the possibility of moving forward with a reduced office space.
The survey found that seven in ten of those who had worked at home during the Covid-19 crisis said remote working had been a positive or very positive experience.
But this figure fell to 66 per cent for workers aged under 30, suggesting that younger workers face particular challenges in home working.
Reduced exposure to Covid-19 was the most frequently-cited (81 per cent) positive factor associated with home working during the pandemic, followed by improved work-life balance (70 per cent), reduced commuting time (67 per cent), and increased work flexibility (55 per cent).
The survey of 4,300 mainly civil and public servants, found half the respondents said home working had improved their productivity, while 45 per cent of those with school-aged children said it had made it easier to manage childcare when schools and crèches closed during the pandemic.
The possible negatives about home working related to four main areas: disconnection from the workplace; work encroachment on home life; costs and the appropriateness of home work space; and health and safety issues.
Worryingly, just 28 per cent of those who worked remotely said a manager had asked them about their home working set-up from a health and safety perspective.
Fórsa has called for the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) to draw up specific employer and employee guidelines on remote working, including mental health risks.
In its submission to a Government consultation on remote working, which was delivered last week, Fórsa said: “The HSA and social partners should explore the challenges of risk assessment in the context of remote working to seek solutions that will protect the health and safety of workers without impeding the expansion of home working.”
The union says health and safety concerns include the potential impact of loneliness and isolation on mental health, working time issues, potential physical impacts arising from inadequate workstations, and conditions arising from eyestrain.