Almost four in ten (39pc) workers would choose a higher-paid job over a job which allowed them to work from home, while more than one in three (35pc) would choose the job that allowed them to work from home. Furthermore, remote working is more important to female workers in Ireland than their male counterparts.
These are some of the findings of a nationwide survey commissioned by employee benefit and pension specialists Lockton Ireland.
The survey, which polled more than 700 workers in Ireland’s labourforce, found that most people (69pc) believe that workers should be entitled to work from home – if their duties can be performed remotely. Less than one in three (31pc) believe it should be up to an employer to decide whether or not an employee can work from home. Women in particular believe workers should have the right to work from home, with more than three in four (76pc) stating this – compared to just over six in ten (63pc) men.
Three in four survey respondents (74pc) said they would not be comfortable turning on their webcam while working from home if requested by their employer to do so – with almost half saying they would refuse to turn such a device on as they would consider it a ‘huge invasion of privacy’.
The Privacy Issue
Commenting on the findings, Ray McKenna, partner with Lockton Ireland, said:
“Our research shows just how important working-from-home (WFH) has become to so many people – and within such a short timeframe too. The WFH trend was the biggest change to hit the world of work in decades, perhaps centuries. It has completely transformed how people work. It allows people to organise their work around their life and work when they’re at their most productive. This in turn should allow people to work alongside the challenges which life throws their way, to work for longer, and to pursue multiple careers if they wish. It will also open up opportunities for people who may have struggled to participate in the workforce before.”
“Despite the strong support for the WFH option, less than one in seven (16pc) people would be prepared to turn on a webcam at the request of their employer – even if failure to do so would prevent them from being able to work from home. It shows just how uncomfortable the thought makes Irish workers. Any employer considering going down this path should be very careful. The issue of webcams has proved to be a contentious one of late – last October, a Dutch court awarded a man €75,000 in compensation after his American employers insisted he kept his webcam turned on throughout the working day.”
Women and Working From Home
The Lockton survey also found that men were more likely to choose a higher-paid office-based job than a lower-paid WFH job – with 44pc of men saying they would opt for the job that paid the higher salary. Just over one in three women (35pc) said they would choose the higher-paid job.
“Almost four in ten female respondents said they would choose workplace flexibility over a higher salary. This is a clear indication of just how instrumental that option could be when it comes to keeping women in the workplace,” said McKenna. “More needs to be done to encourage and facilitate female participation in the labour force. Currently about 60pc of females are in the workplace – compared to 71pc of males.The barriers for female participation in the workplace are well documented. The cost of early childhood education and childcare in Ireland is one of the highest in the EU.
“Traditionally, much of the responsibility for childcare in this country has fallen on women – and while men are playing a more active role today than previous generations did, women still take on much of the childcare. It’s no surprise then that many women take a step back in their careers when they have children and that options such as part-time work are often pursued by females.
Lockton referred to a recent report by the European Commission which found that the number of women participating in the labour force in Ireland has reached a record high due to a shift to remote working during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mr. McKenna advised,
“To ensure women have equal opportunities in the workplace, it is crucial that employers at least consider the WFH option for all employees, where those jobs can be completed from home. This would also give more men the opportunity to work from home too, should they wish to – which will also help level the gender playing field around childcare and work opportunities”.
Other highlights from the Lockton Ireland’s Workers survey include:
- More women than men would have no problem with a request to turn on a webcam (30pc versus 21pc) – with those aged 55 and older the more likely age cohort to have no problem with this term of employment (47pc versus 20pc of those aged between 35 and 44).
- 44pc of people aged 25-34 would opt for the higher salary if they had a choice between a job with a higher salary and a lower-paid WFH job. This compares to 22pc of those in the 35-44 age bracket – perhaps a suggestion that people of this age have young families, so their priorities have changed in terms of what they need from their job, making them more likely to choose the WFH option.