There are less people working remotely from home in Northern Ireland than any other part of the UK, according to the latest analysis from economists at Ulster University. The rate of working remotely across the UK for employees averages around 31%, but here in N Ireland there are now only 17% of employees working at least partly from home. Mind you there were less than 10% working remotely before the pandemic, but this rose to 41% when the virus was at its peak.
Employers By And Large Happy With Current Working Arrangements
But the research by Ulster University also found that employers by and large were happy with the current working arrangements where some employees were working at least partly remotely. Companies had adopted their working practices successfully and neither the employer or employees were looking to get back into the office every day. It appears that this more flexible approach to working hours and working places looks to be a permanent fixture on the landscape.
This does not mean that there aren’t some issues that crop up with remote working. Employers suggest that there can be some impact on collaboration and bonding, where the team ethic can be weakened. There were also concerns in some instances around productivity levels, but most of the companies surveyed in the analysis were frankly unsure whether remote working led to more or less productivity. However in the main the results seemed positive on this score.
A Hybrid Environment Seems The Best Way To Go
Speaking about the analysis by Ulster University, Economist at Ulster University Economic Policy Centre Ana Desmond is quoted in an article on the BBC News website, saying:
“Where remote working is possible, it appears from this research the best way to strike a balance between management and employees at present is a hybrid environment where workplace days are coordinated bringing teams together to facilitate innovation and creativity, alongside fostering corporate culture, whilst at-home days allows specific tasks to be completed with more focus and attention.”
“Businesses may need to adapt management and mentoring practices to ensure employees feel visible, integrated, and appropriately trained for the job within the workplace.”
She added that those with management responsibilities “may now be responsible for creating a sense of place within the workspace alongside coordinating employees”.
The article does not explain why there are less people working from home in Northern Ireland than the rest of the country, maybe this is because we are such a sociable lot here and feel the need to socialise more than other parts of the UK?! Whatever the reasons we suspect that remote working will probably rise over the next few years, as the need for more flexible working practices and the need to cut down carbon emissions on the commute to work will be high on the agenda.