A One Size Fits All Won’t Work!

19th October 2023

Posted In: Be In The Frame

The year to date has seen a slow but steady return of office workers to their on-site workplace with over half (55%) now spending between two and three days in the office each week, a 7-percentage point increase on Q4 2022.

This trend has been driven by an increasing number of employers (more than half of the 320 companies surveyed) implementing core hours and/ or days-in-the-office policies.

Dublin Chamber’s latest Quarterly Business Outlook Survey marks its second collaboration with Savills Ireland, delivering a report that analyses hybrid and remote working trends using metrics such as time, capacity, space, and legislation, allowing for additional insights into how the world of work has evolved since their first collaboration in Q4 last year.

Highlights from the quarterly report include:

•Only a third of companies (33%) now offer complete flexibility to their staff regarding ‘core hours/days’, a steep drop from 45% in Q4 2022.

•There has been a steady increase in those reporting higher levels of office capacity on the traditional core days of Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, while office usage remains at its lowest on Mondays and Fridays.

Thursday has overtaken Wednesday as the day of the week typically recording the highest use of office space.

•One in four firms (27%) report their employees to be working three days a week, a notable increase from 21% nine months ago

Speaking of the findings, Andrew Cunningham, Director of Offices at Savills Ireland, said: “The pace of the return to the office is slower than the swift migration towards remote working that was foisted upon us two- and-a-half years ago, but it is there, nonetheless.”

Building on this, Andrew observed a notable shift in worker’s office attendance patterns.

“The midweek days remain the office ‘anchors’, but there’s been a distinct increase in onsite presence recorded on these days. Thursdays have experienced a considerable surge, with the number of companies reporting over 71% occupancy rising from 28% to 35% in just nine months.

According to the results, this upward trend in office occupancy has been influenced by a multitude of factors, perhaps not least by the growing concern of productivity. While just over a third of Dublin firms report it as a concern, productivity is a growing factor being associated with hybrid and remote working, up from 30% in Q4 2022 to 35% in Q3 2023.”

Mary Rose Burke, Dublin Chamber CEO commented: “We must recognise that there is an increase in the number of employees returning to the office. However, with less than one in ten businesses (8%) reporting five-day office attendance from staff, the future of hybrid working is clear. The rationale behind this will be different for every employer but what we have found is that like the sentiments expressed in our Q4 report last year, cultivating a positive work culture (74%), onboarding new staff members (64%), and the needs of the business model (55%), are the primary concerns for businesses in Q3 2023 around hybrid and remote working. In addition,

offering hybrid and remote working as a recruitment and retention tactic remains the largest motivator for companies with almost three in four (73%) using it as a tool to address the current skills gap crisis.”

Highlighting the diverse strategies in play, Mary Rose noted that,“The journey back to the office is unique and nuanced for each firm. SMEs appear to lean more towards remote work, whereas larger firms with over 50 staff are inclined to increase office days.

A one-size-fits-all mindset won’t work, and this must be reflected within the Code of Practice being designed by the Workplace Relations Committee to govern the right to request remote work.

More than one in two firms welcome the development of this Code, with only one in ten expecting it to be a hindrance. We hope consideration of our recent submission of recommendations to the WRC will ensure this concern does not come to fruition and that the Code of Practice will serve as a comprehensive support to businesses.”