Majority of remote workers happy with support from employers – survey
Six in 10 Irish employers are getting it right when it comes to supporting their remote workforce according to the latest Taxback.com Taxpayer Sentiment Survey Series 2021.
The tax refund specialist asked over 3,200 members of its customer database nationwide how they are faring in the new mobile working environment, and of those who work from home, 60% say their employers are doing enough to support them, both in terms of physical equipment and set up, and in the provision of wider, soft supports to help get to grips with the change in working practices.
“When it comes to working from home the needs of employees are two-fold,” said Marian Ryan, consumer tax manager at Taxback.com. “Of course, you need the more tangible aspects like a laptop, a desk, perhaps an ergonomic chair etc., but the more intangible, emotionally intelligent supports are also especially important. It’s so encouraging to see that the vast majority of employees feel their employer is delivering in both respects.”
While 2020 was the year of rapid adaptation for both employers and employees alike, Taxback.com said the approach in 2021 is more considered and forward-thinking with organisations and their workforce mapping out what the future might look like in terms of work practices and environment.
“While 60% of employees feel very well supported, we can’t ignore the 40% who are struggling to some extent,” added Ryan. “Twenty per cent of respondents said that although they have the material supports needed to perform their daily duties, their employer has missed the mark on softer supports. These could include mentorship and guidance on areas such as building communication skills, help with time-management, and decision-making. These aspects are no less crucial to a well-functioning work environment. Without adequate attention to supporting these skills and capabilities, employees are more likely to feel isolated, less motivated and possibly less productive.”
The survey revealed that the sense of work pressure felt by employees was unchanged for the majority (47%), but 34% feel they are now under more pressure as a result of working from home, and the remainder said they actually feel less pressure.
“The change in the perception of work pressures among employees may well be linked to and reflect the varying levels of success that management teams have had in rolling out work from home protocols and operations,” said Ryan. “At the individual level, we all adapt in different ways to change and to new challenges, and whereas some people may be thriving in their new set up, it may simply not be suiting others as well. The level of pressure perceived may also vary greatly depending on your job – if you had a computer-based work process already, it might be an easier adjustment to working from home, whereas that adaptation might be more difficult or stressful for more site-based jobs.”
When asked how employers might make remote working work better for employees, 28% feel they would benefit from a cash injection to cover additional costs.
“The amount of investment required to set up a home office, again, depends heavily on what resources are made available by employers, as well as the person’s own resources and what they already have in their home,” said Ryan. “However, beyond initial set up, there are ongoing costs such as energy and broadband that have to be paid by employees, and there certainly is a case to be made for schemes, both at a company level and at a national tax level, to address these financial demands to a greater degree, particularly as many workers are out of office on a compulsory basis during the pandemic.
The same number of respondents (28%) feel there is nothing more their employer could be doing for them, which Ryan said is a “terrific endorsement for these organisations.”
The survey also found that 20% of respondents would like greater communication, be it between management and workers or on a more peer-to-peer level, while 17% of respondents desire greater flexibility around hours.
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