Kylemore: Is the Future of Work Remote?

Professor Alma McCarthy of the National University of Ireland, Galway, joins us to discuss the national study on remote work in Ireland completed in 2020 and how COVID-19 has influenced the shift in the workplace. In her videos, she discusses the key takeaways and looks at what is next for future conversations about remote work.

Read the event recap, watch the video, or listen to the podcast below.


Highlights

  • The amount of people who prefer to work remotely in some capacity increased from 83% after the onset of the pandemic to 94% six months into the pandemic (13:32)
  • Some of the advantages of working remotely are reduced commute time and more flexibility (16:40)
  • Some of the disadvantages of working remotely are loneliness and less motivation (17:36)
  • “It’s very clear from our research that things are very unlikely to go back to the way they were” (Alma McCarthy, 19:30)
  • “I would argue that the future is not fully remote. It is probably going to be a hybrid, blended, flexed, distributed, or anywhere workforce”  (Alma McCarthy, 20:03)
  • Organizational leaders must find ways to be cognizant and support employees during this challenging time in order to make remote work more successful (33:30)
  • “There is a lot of discussion and rhetoric around well-being, but how do you actually put it into place? It is one thing to say it and another thing to do it” (Alma McCarthy, 58:20)

Event Recap

The third virtual event of the Anticipatory Innovation- Capitalizing on Change in Turbulent Times featured a discussion around working remotely and the future of the workplace post-pandemic. This event was moderated by Lisa Caulfield, Director of the Global Centre at Kylemore, and featured Alma McCarthy, Head of the J.E. Cairnes School of Business & Economics and Professor of Public Sector Management at the National University of Ireland, Galway. McCarthy shared the various reports she’s worked on surrounding the remote workplace since Covid-19 struck in March of 2020, specifically as it relates to Ireland. This event focused on people’s preferences to working from home versus in the office, the perceived advantages, and disadvantages of working from home, as well as other ways working from home might affect the future.

Before McCarthy began her presentation, she gave some context of Ireland’s approach to handling the pandemic. According to McCarthy, Ireland is on its third national shutdown with everyone working from home with the exception of essential workers. McCarthy began with a short presentation related to the findings in the reports that the National University of Ireland, Galway surveyed after the country had shut down. The first report showed that at the onset of remote working, 83% of people wanted to work remotely in some capacity. The second report which was done 6 months into the pandemic found that 94% of people wanted to work remotely in some capacity. Over half the people surveyed in these reports had not worked from home prior to the pandemic. Based on these statistics, there has been an increase in the number of people who are more willing to work from home.

Remote work has had its advantages and disadvantages. In McCarthy’s reports, the top three advantages of working from home were reported to be no commute time, reduced costs from not commuting to work each day, and more flexibility. The disadvantages reported were the effects of isolation and loneliness, difficulty staying motivated, and the challenges associated with the physical workplace. For example, some workers may be sharing the kitchen table with their kids as they do school.These advantages and disadvantages come with opportunities and challenges for the future. 

McCarthy further discussed these various opportunities and challenges that remote work presented. She suggested that company leadership be cognizant of their employees and the extra stress they might be under. One way that leaders can be more cognizant is by giving employees more latitude in how they accomplish their work. For example, allowing employees to have flexible hours rather than the usual 9-5 workday. McCarthy stressed the importance of employees feeling supported, whether this is through more work flexibility, less meetings, or through low stress social hours. These measures can also reduce stress and burnout in employees.

McCarthy concluded by saying that she believes the future of the workplace has changed for good. While the pandemic continues, companies must be able to continue their operations and adjust to the changing times. 

This event concluded with a short breakout session for viewers to meet and further discuss what McCarthy offered in her presentation as well as their personal experiences related to remote working. 


View the discussion recorded on Wednesday, February 24, 2021 with Lisa Caulfield, Director of the Global Centre at Kylemore and special guest Professor Alma McCarthy.  Register to receive information about how to join future events.


Listen to the discussion wherever, whenever, on The ThinkND Podcast:


Other recaps:
Part 2: Kylemore: To Act With Resilience
Part 4: Kylemore: Unleashing Your Creative Genius

Register to receive information about how to join future Kylemore Book Club live events.

Art and HistoryBusinessCareer DevelopmentSam MillerLisa CaulfieldKylemore Abbey Global CentreBusiness OutlookIrelandMendoza College of Business