11 May 2020 | 11.12 am
Lawyers Expect Offices To Open By September
Appetite for remote working also growing among workforce at large
11 May 2020 | 11.12 am
Three-quarters of Irish lawyers believe that their workplaces will be open by September 2020, according to new research.
The finding comes from business law firm Mason Hayes & Curran’s ‘Getting Ireland Back to Work’ survey, carried out among 300 HR professionals and in-house lawyers.
Fewer than one in ten of those surveyed expect their workplace to open later than September 2020, while 1% predict that it will be 2021 before their office is operational again.
Just over half of respondents in the MHC survey agreed that difficulties around social distancing may delay employees returning to offices and workplaces, while one in four think that employee concerns over further virus transmission may also be an obstacle.
Commenting on the survey, MHC head of employment law Melanie Crowley (pictured) said that it’s key that employers are as flexible as possible when dealing with employees.
“The obligation to ensure workplaces are safe and any exposure to potential claims for workplace infections are clearly high on the agenda for employers,” Crowley added. “So too is the need to factor in employees’ personal circumstances, especially with regard to vulnerabilities and practical issues like childcare.
“This may mean that working from home becomes a more permanent feature of our working lives, where that can be accommodated.”
Separately, a recent survey by researchers from the Whitaker Institute at NUI Galway and the Western Development Commission found that 83% of respondents expressed interest in continuing to work remotely.
Over half of those surveyed (51%) had never worked remotely before the Covid-19 pandemic. Of those who had never worked remotely, 78% would like to work remotely for some or all of the time after the crisis is over.
The survey collected responses from more than 7,000 individuals from a range of industries and sectors.
Of the 83% that indicated a wish to work remotely after the pandemic eases, 12% said they would like to work remotely on a daily basis, while 42% indicated they would like to work remotely several times a week.
Professor Alma McCarthy, who was one of the survey’s organisers, said that many roles and jobs can be performed effectively remotely.
“What is the benefit of long commutes to work and sitting in traffic if we can leverage technology at least some of the week to do our work? Productivity does not necessarily correlate with presence in the workplace.”
Prof. McCarthy suggested that a mindset change is needed by manager and employers in terms of managing work remotely. “The current crisis provides an opportunity for organisations and managers to rethink how we work.”
Respondents also suggested a number of key improvements that their employers should make regarding remote working at present. Among them are the provision of better and more ergonomic physical workspaces, better management of video conference meetings, the provision of wellbeing supports and more flexibility in terms of hours of work.