Ireland Leads Europe in Remote Working Adoption
New analysis by BNP Paribas Real Estate Ireland reveals that Ireland has embraced remote working at a faster rate than any other European country. The data, based on Eurostat figures, shows that three times as many people were working from home in Ireland last year compared to 2019. Alongside Malta, the Netherlands, Germany, and France, Ireland is leading the way in terms of its workforce’s adoption of remote working.
In 2019, only 7% of Ireland’s workforce stated that they “usually” work from home. However, this figure skyrocketed to 25% in 2022, marking the highest increase in any country, largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Director of Research at BNP Paribas Real Estate Ireland, John McCartney, commended Ireland’s adaptability throughout the pandemic, particularly the ease with which businesses and employees adjusted their working models.
McCartney also highlighted the impact of remote working on commercial property. Over time, remote working has allowed employers to implement hot-desking and rostering systems, reducing the amount of office space required per employee. While this has implications for the demand for office accommodation, McCartney noted that Ireland’s service-driven economy has created service sector jobs at more than twice the average rate in the EU since the pandemic.
The analysis further revealed that 27.9% of Ireland’s employees work in desk-based sectors, higher than the EU average of 24.6%. Additionally, desk-based jobs in Ireland have increased by 15% since the first quarter of 2020, compared to the EU average of 6.9%. McCartney also observed a shift in occupier preferences, with Irish organizations seeking less but higher-quality office space in line with a broader European trend. This shift is driven by sustainability objectives and the need to optimize the employee experience in a competitive labor market.
Under the Work Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2023, all employees in Ireland have a legal right to request remote working after six months of continuous service with their employer. Employers are required by law to respond to such requests within four weeks and provide reasons if the request is denied. This legislation reflects the growing recognition of the importance of work-life balance and allows employees to have more control over their working arrangements.
In addition to the significant number of employees working from home, the Irish government estimates that 24,000 people use remote-working hubs on a daily basis. These hubs, which provide broadband access and other facilities, are spread across approximately 300 locations throughout the country. The average occupancy rate across the network currently stands at 75%, although this figure does not include remote workers who may have made alternative arrangements.
However, employers have been advised to update their policies as privacy concerns arise for companies with staff working in remote spaces. It is crucial for organizations to address these concerns and ensure that employees’ privacy and data protection are adequately safeguarded.
In conclusion, Ireland has emerged as a leader in remote working adoption, surpassing other European countries in embracing this new way of working. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated this shift, prompting businesses and employees to adapt their working models. While there are implications for the demand for office space, Ireland’s service-driven economy and the changing preferences of occupiers are mitigating the impact. With legislation in place to support remote working requests and the availability of remote-working hubs, Ireland is well-positioned to continue its remote working success story.