Almost half of workers now working remotely, 49%, have already accepted a salary reduction or expect to have one in the near future, as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, a new survey for the National Recruitment Federation (ERF) has found.
Similarly, 50% of workers surveyed say they are already experiencing lower household income, or expect to, as a result of lower personal pay or a working partner being unpaid or on reduced pay.
Those experiencing reduced earnings were more likely to work in sales (77%) or professional services (51%), to be Dublin based (53%), and to be on a salary scale under €50,000.
However, 73%, over 7 in 10 now working from home have seen their overall outgoings reduced, or are saving money as a result.
Cohorts that appear to be benefitting most in terms of savings include those in suburban or rural areas, those who are always office based, and those who normally use either public transport or their car to get to work.
The survey was carried out nationally last week, by research company Opinions. It questioned individuals working from home on their experience of remote working and the practical and emotional impacts. Income change and future finances and employment prospects were also examined.
On future job security perceptions, just 1 in 4 of workers, 25%, are very confident of the security of their role after the crisis; although almost half, 46%, appear quite confident.
Of the 24% not confident at all of their job prospects, this cohort includes those living in urban areas, people who have already taken a pay cut, or expect to, and those whose pay is currently supplemented by a Government subsidy.
Over 4 in 10 working from home report that the nature of their role has changed considerably due to Covid-19, beyond just working from a different location. Dramatically changed work practices and the nature of work now done remotely was most likely to affect people under 35 years old, those in the C2DE social grade and those reporting a salary cut.
4 in 10 working remotely claim that Covid-19 disruption is causing them to evaluate their job and consider a new or different role elsewhere, or a new career or training opportunity. Similarly, those most likely to be reviewing their career potential now include the under 35s, those in urban areas, people who have taken a salary cut or whose role has changed as a result of working from home.
Despite financial worries and changed career prospects, the National Recruitment Federation survey reveals polarised experiences of working through Covid-19, ERF President, Donal O’Donoghue says.
59%, or almost 6 in 10 people now working remotely, say they are happier as a result, he explains.
“On balance, it seems, we are happier working from home; and, almost 7 in 10 say they would be happy to work remotely in future. So, leaving aside economic concerns, the notion of a remote working revolution in the future must be seriously examined by employers”.
While 68% said they would be happy to work remotely in future, with occasional office meetings, only 3 in 10, 30% of workers that never work from home in ordinary circumstances, say they are likely to ask their employer for such an arrangement.
Those reported to be most happy with remote working are living in rural areas, or working in professional services and advisory or consultancy roles. Suburban residents in executive or operational roles and those over 55 years old were most likely to be less happy working from home.
Pros and Cons
Questioned on the positive aspects of working from home, 81% agreed they were safer, in terms of the spread of Covid-19.
In terms of the work experience, not having a daily commute was the top benefit, referenced by eight out of ten working from home.
Not needing to dress or appear in a certain way, such as clean shaven, was selected as a positive aspect by 57%, while 47% felt they were not spending as much on lunch and incidental shopping.
The flexibility to work when it suits appeals to 45% of respondents, but only 34% felt that increased productivity at home and getting through more work was a benefit.
On the question of productivity levels, almost twice as many working remotely feel they are less productive than more productive. While 40% say they are similarly productive now that they are working from home, a similar proportion (39%) feel they are less productive as a result.
However one fifth, 21% of workers, feel they are actually a lot more productive at home.
Missing social interaction with work colleagues is identified as the number 1 negative or challenge experienced to date by 54% of those working from home. Interaction with colleagues for professional reasons or practical work supports emerges as a main challenge for slightly fewer, at 47%.
42% say it is harder to get motivated and in the frame of mind to work, while distraction from other family members is a problem for 36% and distraction from children bothers 32%.
Unsurprisingly, distraction from children is the number 1 negative experienced to date by parents working from home.
More than one in 5, 21%, is hampered in working from home by poor or no broadband connectivity, an issue flagged by the National Recruitment Federation as significant in terms of encouraging the remote working model in Ireland.
Many factors in play at the moment, such as job security and distraction from home-schooled children would not normally exist for remote workers, Donal O’Donoghue explains.
“Post Covid-19, we expect cost-savings and logistics issues like reduced commuting to tip the balance in favour of working from home for many. Interaction with colleagues, socially and professionally, can still happen with various technologies, although outside of the main urban areas reliable broadband infrastructure will be crucial”.
New Ways of Working
With the pandemic likely to prompt new ways of working in the future, employers will also look at the fact that 4 in 10 workers claim they are less productive working from home currently.
Again, this is more a product of the lockdown and the unique circumstances we find ourselves in, than of remote working, the ERF President says.
“Increasingly, global data in the recruitment sector confirms that remote workers are more productive than their office-based counterparts. Out of the office, they report less distractions and less stress, largely due to greater autonomy”.
The fact that working remotely is making 4 in 10 evaluate their job and consider a different role or career elsewhere will also be food for thought for many employers, Donal O’Donoghue says.
“Enabling some sort of home working arrangement would appear sensible, both from an employee satisfaction and productivity perspective. Time and money savings for employees make economic sense and employers will also reckon in the need for less office space and infrastructure for remote workers too!”
To view the full results of the survey click here.