Senior leaders should work from home in order to act as “role models” encouraging effective remote working and equal opportunity in organisations, according to a new report.
The report on remote working, authored by experts from NUI Galway’s Whitaker Institute and the Western Development Commission (WDC), makes key recommendations ahead of the Government’s upcoming remote work strategy.
As the practice has become widespread during the Covid-19 pandemic, the group said its potential benefits include improved productivity, greater labour market participation, reduced emissions and more balanced regional and rural development.
It has now called for both the Government and organisations to introduce a range of measures to support continued remote working “in a post-pandemic environment”.
It can be transformative, sustainable, and to the benefit of all in the long run
“Remote working offers significant benefits to the individual and to society. It can improve the work and personal lives of both rural and urban dwellers and offer new opportunities to both employers and employees,” chair of the group and CEO of the WDC, Tomás Ó Síocháin said.
“However, it is important to note that each organisation must make a conscious decision to support remote working. It requires senior leaders to embrace and lead it in each organisation. If they do, it can be transformative, sustainable, and to the benefit of all in the long run.”
The group has urged organisations operating a “blended model” of both remote and in-office work to consider a “remote-first” culture, ensuring some leaders are remote working themselves.
This avoids an approach that disadvantages those working remotely in terms of career development and opportunity, it said.
Structured social interaction, training on how to work remotely and support for early-career workers is also crucial, the group recommended.
Making recommendations to be implemented by Government, the group called for wider financial supports to provide equipment for those obliged to work from home under Covid-19 restrictions.
It also raised the need for an awareness campaign on laws surrounding working time and rest periods, in order to ensure employees are not working excessive hours.
The Government should consider extending the right to request flexible working to all workers, it said, and not just those with caring duties.
The group also called for a review of remote work tax relief, the current €3.20 daily eWorking Allowance, as part of a national strategy for remote working.
This would ensure that tax reliefs defray the costs involved in remote working.
The most recent data from national remote working surveys in October 2020 found that among those who can work remotely, 94 per cent were in favour of working remotely on an ongoing basis for some or all the time.