Job-life satisfaction highest amongst those who work remotely - CSO

New survey finds people who work mostly from home are happiest in work and life

People who worked remotely, either before or during the Covid-19 pandemic, were more satisfied with their jobs and lives, a new survey from the Central Statistics Office shows.

The CSO’s Personal and Work-Life Balance Survey found that 39 per cent of employees worked remotely at some stage last year compared with just 8 per cent who availed of some form of remote working before the Covid-19 pandemic forced many people out of their workplaces.

Very high levels of job and life satisfaction were reported by workers irrespective of working arrangements. Satisfaction levels were highest among those working mostly from home.

Workers who were working mostly from home with a mix of office- or hub-based work and travel were most satisfied with both their job and life as a whole.

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A large majority, just more than 94.2 per cent, were either satisfied or very satisfied with their life, which was slightly higher than those who worked completely from home, at 93.6 per cent.

Some 90.8 per cent who had not availed of remote working were either satisfied or very satisfied with their life as a whole.

Joanne Mangan of Grow Remote, a group set up to develop local communities through remote working, said that working from home was not just freeing up commuting time to allow people spend more time at home and with their families and in their local communities but making people more satisfied with work and life because of its flexibility.

“It is that sense of trust that comes with being able to work remotely. A lot of companies are realising there are different ways you need to manage employees and you can’t be monitoring presenteeism anymore,” she said.

‘All about productivity’

“It is all about what people are producing so it’s all about productivity, and with that comes a degree of trust so a lot of people enjoy that newfound sense of trust that they have from their employer when they are working remotely.”

According to the CSO figures, education had the highest level of remote working with 86 per cent in this sector working remotely compared with just 12 per cent in the construction sector. Just 3 per cent of people working in education had availed of remote working prior to the pandemic.

Workers in larger organisations were more likely to have worked from home.

The survey found that 49 per cent of full-time employees working in organisations of 100 people or more worked remotely at some point during the previous year.

This compared with 31 per cent of full-time workers in organisations of fewer than 20 people.

Full-time workers were almost twice as likely to work remotely with 43 per cent saying they worked remotely compared with 22 per cent of part-time workers.

Professionals were most likely to have turned to remote working during the pandemic with 63 per cent working outside the office, followed by managers, directors and senior officials along with associate professionals and technical workers who were jointly in second place at 51 per cent.

Skilled trade workers had the lowest number of remote workers, at just 3 per cent.

The survey was carried out between July and September of last year when Covid-related restrictions were still in place and many people were still remote working during the pandemic.

In the third quarter of last year, just 23 per cent of workers were back in the workplace fully and had not availed of remote working in the previous four weeks. More than a quarter, 26 per cent of workers, were back in the workplace for a number of days a week.

Workers with dependent children were slightly more likely to have availed of remote working at 41 per cent of those interviewed compared with 37 per cent with no dependent children.

People living alone with no dependent children were most likely to have worked remotely in the 12 months prior to being interviewed for the survey; just more than half of those surveyed, 50.4 per cent, were remote-working at some point during the previous 12 months.

Prior to the pandemic, workers in the IT and communications sector were already availing of remote working at a significant level, with 29.9 per cent working remotely before Covid.

This figure more than doubled to 64.2 per cent during the pandemic.

People working in financial, insurance and real estate made up the next highest number of remote workers with 63 per cent working outside their offices and workplaces.

In the area of industry, the number of remote workers jumped to 42.6 per cent during the pandemic from 14 per cent before Covid-19 struck.

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell is The Irish Times’s Public Affairs Editor and former Washington correspondent