Ireland has recorded 8,126 more cases of Covid-19, amid a call from unions for remote and hybrid working to continue as tomorrow marks the start of a return to the office.
4,731 cases have been confirmed by PCR test, while 3,395 positive antigen test results have been uploaded to the HSE portal. The Ministry of Health has warned that the results of self-reported tests are not directly comparable to cases confirmed by laboratory PCR.
Monday will see the start of a phased return to work for those working from home amid the pandemic.
Amid a major lifting of Covid restrictions this week, Forsa and the Irish Trades Union Congress are among those calling on employers to continue to facilitate remote working.
Forsa communications manager Bernard Harbor said employers shouldn’t ignore the benefits of hybrid working.
“In most surveys of employers and unions, productivity has held steady or increased, and there are also obviously many benefits for employees in terms of being able to manage their time more productively, see more family members, spend less time commuting, etc.”
Employers need to take a strategic approach to returning to the office, he added.
“One is to make sure that any return to work is phased in time, that it’s not rushed and that it’s done properly.
“Secondly, we want to make sure the benefits of remote working and blended working are not lost so that in the longer term we have arrangements in place where people can work remotely for their own benefit but also for the benefit of employers and the public service itself.
“A single reopening does not suit all”
CIPD Ireland, the professional body for HR teams, also warned that a “one-size-fits-all reopening does not fit all”.
As many employers prepare communications to staff about how they plan to reopen, CIPD Ireland has advised businesses to take time and ensure they are “doing the right process”.
“It’s also important to remember that, just like every new restriction that has taken a long time to come to terms with, the removal of these rules may cause concerns within the workforce,” said Mary Connaughton, director from CIPD Ireland.
“Businesses have the opportunity to make many of their own decisions about this, and it’s important to design a reopening that works for the business and the workforce.”
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Ms Connaughton urged employers to communicate with their employees and listen to what they have to say as they finalize their reopening plans. She also warned employers to expect anxiety and to be flexible.
“We are still living in a pandemic situation and workers may have concerns about their health or that of their family members for a period of time. Be sure to be compassionate and listen when they share their concerns and take them into account when planning,” she said.
“Employers don’t have to change existing practices if they are working well. Figures from CSOs released last week underpinned our own CIPD Ireland research into how a majority of people would like to work remotely to some degree post-pandemic.
“It’s not over yet, but the coming weeks will be the best chance we’ve had to see what that landscape might look like – and it’s in the company’s hands to design that future.”