Ireland must avoid ‘drift back to the office’, says Varadkar

The Government launched its #MakingRemoteWork campaign on Monday.
Ireland must avoid ‘drift back to the office’, says Varadkar

By Michelle Devane, PA

Ireland must avoid a “drift back to the office” following the pandemic, according to the Tánaiste.

Leo Varadkar, also the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, said on Monday that the State should seek to avoid a return to the “old normal” and wants future arrangements to be based on “personal choice”.

He made the comments as he launched the #MakingRemoteWork campaign at Government Buildings in Dublin on Monday.

“It’s the Government saying to employers, employees that now’s a good time to begin the conversation about what the return to work, the return to the modern workplace, is going to look like after the pandemic,” Mr Varadkar said.

“Huge numbers of people have been working from home for many months now. We know what can now be achieved in terms of productivity, how practical it is, and how successful it’s been.

“But at the moment it’s not a choice, people are being told that they have to work from home if at all possible – that is going to change in the next couple of months.

“It is going to become a choice, and people won’t have to work from home. They’ll be able to return to the workplace, but we don’t want things to drift back to the way they were.

“We don’t want to go back to the old normal. We want a new normal. We want that to be based on personal choice.”

Post-Covid work

Mr Varadkar's comments come as a survey published on Monday showed that two in five workers (38 per cent) are yet to receive clarity from their employers regarding work practices after Covid.

The survey, carried out by IrishJobs.ie, found that 42 per cent of employers said they have not informed workers of post-Covid work practices as they await guidance from public health officials.

The delay is causing an impact on worker's ability to plan their personal lives, according to 45 per cent of the survey's respondents, affecting decisions such as where to rent or buy accommodation, and where to send their children to school.

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