A survey commissioned by Data Solutions, the leading Irish distributor of IT solutions, has found that a higher uptake of flexible working among Irish knowledge workers would add €2.5 billion to the Irish economy, through increases in employment and productivity.
The survey uncovered huge cost savings and monetary gains potential for
the Irish economy. Working flexibly two days a week on average would
save Irish knowledge workers €252 million annually in transportation
costs. The cost of commuting for knowledge workers, including fuel and
transport tickets, is on average €47 per week, the survey revealed.
Overall, the survey dispels the common misconception among non-users
that flexible working negatively impacts professionalism, access
management and job progression. Instead, the results show that 42% of
flexible workers are willing to work extra hours each week, which is
worth a potential €827m to the Irish economy each year. Of these, 61%
would be willing to work up to eight hours extra a week, remotely. At
86%, the majority of knowledge workers claim flexible working drives
productivity and increases output.
The survey discovered that unemployed and economically inactive
knowledge workers, such as those who are unemployed, disabled or
students, would be encouraged to return to work if remote working
conditions were available. Interestingly, 71% of unemployed or
economically inactive individuals want to re-enter the workforce. This
group provides the largest potential for economic gains potentially
adding €1.64 billion to the Irish economy.
According to the results, the ability to work from any location would
allow 84% of unemployed or economically inactive individuals to return
to work, when working in a specific office location presents its own
Flexible working also improves employee work-life balance and allows
employees be happier in their job. Of respondents, 91% said flexible
working positively affects their ability to manage personal and
professional commitments while 68% agree it makes them happier in their
job. The findings revealed that flexible working would provide an
additional 2.8 hours of leisure time per person per week.
While there is a high awareness of flexible working among Irish
knowledge workers, there is room for further adoption. Of all knowledge
workers, 92% are aware of flexible working environments, however just 4
in 10 currently utilise them. The findings showed that middle managers,
specialists and senior managers are much more likely to utilise remote
working compared to employees in entry level positions.
The Data Solutions survey also found anecdotal evidence from companies
that flexible working would provide overhead cost savings to the
organisation. Some HR managers pointed out that some company cultures,
such as start-ups, currently do not facilitate flexible working
arrangements as it is necessary to have staff on-site to get the work
Michael O’Hara, managing director, Data Solutions, commented on the
findings, “The results, which will be presented in full at the upcoming
.Next Computing Forum, are extremely interesting as they have thoroughly
shot down misconceptions associated with flexible working. Instead we
can clearly see the huge benefits of flexible working to the individual,
the organisation and to the Irish economy.
“What is concerning is the high number of workers who are aware of the
option of flexible working, but who do not utilise it. Given the
potential savings, earnings and monetary gains to be made in this area,
companies clearly need to review their flexible and mobile working
arrangements and ensure they are getting the most out of them.
“The survey has given us a strong understanding of adoption rates and
attitudes of organisations when it comes to flexible working. It has
also given us a look at the potential to be uncovered, especially among
unemployed or economically inactive individuals. Irish businesses and
Irish business leaders have an exciting opportunity ahead to further
contribute to the economy, improve the work-life balance of employees
and gain from flexible working.”
The survey was commissioned by Data Solutions and carried out by the UCD
Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School Marketing Development
Programme. It was carried out in March 2015 via face-to-face interviews
among 200 knowledge workers, 20 HR managers in companies that employ
knowledge workers and 50 unemployed workers. ‘Knowledge workers’ refers
to those whose main capital is knowledge and includes accountants,
engineers, architects and doctors. Unemployed and inactive workers
include students, home-makers, disabled and retired.
The .Next Computing Forum, with special MC Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin,
takes place on Thursday, 8 October 2015, in the Light House Cinema in
Smithfield, Dublin 2. Find out more and register your attendance here http://nextcomputingforum.ie/