The impact of the global pandemic can be felt everywhere. As the country adapts to the ongoing restrictions, the focus now shifts to the future and how businesses plan on returning to work safely.

In our recent Return to Work Safely survey, we looked at the current employer sentiment across a number of industries in relation to the “Return to Work Safely Protocol” outlined by the Irish Government.

The survey was designed to gain an insight into how companies are adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic and to look at what preparations are currently being made as workplaces begin to reopen.

We surveyed businesses in many industries including Accountancy & Finance, Construction, Electronics, Engineering, Food, IT, Logistics, Manufacturing, Medical Devices, and Pharmaceuticals.


Breakdown of Businesses Surveyed,

  • 48% employ between 0-50 people.
  • 17% employ between 51-100 people.
  • 7% employ between 101-200 people.
  • 28% employ more than 200 people.


Please scroll down to view our findings from this survey.


Returning to Work Safely

The ongoing restrictions on the work environment have affected businesses across the country. The prospect of returning to work and doing so safely has become a top priority.


Of those surveyed, 67% stated that they are currently in the process of implementing the Governments “Return to Work Safely Protocol”. A clear indicator that businesses are eager to return to work and wish to do so in a manner that is safe for their employees.



Highlighting the fact that a lot of uncertainty still affects decisions being made by employers, 43% stated that they have yet to decide on a return to work date for their employees. As the Irish Government guides us through each phase of their roadmap, we expect confidence levels will increase for employers. Over time it will become easier for businesses to decide on a safe return to work date.


How businesses plan on returning to work can often be a difficult question to answer. The majority of those surveyed do not expect a Full Return to Work in the near future. Only 16% believe that a full return to work is possible right now. Our findings indicate that businesses are instead planning for a Phased Return (36%) or a Split Return (39%) with a number of employees working from home and/or the rest working on site.


The timeline of when a business plans its return to work will differ across industries. Our findings indicate that over 90% of respondents expect to return to a new normal by the end of Q4 2020.  Highlighting the uncertainty of planning for the short term but with confidence levels growing later in the year.



Remote Working

The ongoing social distance guidelines do not allow for many businesses to operate in the same manner as they did a few months ago. Nearly half of all respondents stated that 80% of their workforce are currently working from home. A trend that is seen in many industries nationwide.


69% of businesses stated that less than a fifth of their workforce worked remotely prior to COVID 19. With remote work becoming a more viable option for businesses and with the ongoing social distancing restrictions, we believe that the majority of businesses will encourage employees to work remotely where possible.



This sentiment is shared by many employers, with 65% currently reviewing their policy on remote working for the future.


COVID 19 Guidelines

The Government’s COVID 19 guidelines have made it difficult for many people to work in close proximity to each other. However, 65% of businesses agreed that the 2-metre social distance restriction will have little to no effect on their business.


Many employers plan to handle these guidelines internally. Only 14% are considering enlisting the services of an external consultancy to assist with the implementation of the Return to Work Safely Protocol.


Adhering to these guidelines requires investment from each business into purchasing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). We’ve found that many businesses have been proactive in this regard and 81% already have PPE available on their premises including hand sanitiser, face masks, and/or gloves.


In the beginning, demand outstripped supply as businesses (and the general public) were unable to purchase any PPE. However, only 32% of those surveyed stated that they found it difficult or somewhat difficult to gain access to PPE.


In anticipation of the return to work for their employees, 65% of employers have formally introduced a hand and respiratory hygiene policy to their business.



The Hidden Costs

The ongoing COVID 19 pandemic has made it increasingly difficult for all businesses to function as they did pre COVID19. These restrictions will pose an additional cost to all businesses. However, 44% stated that this cost will be insignificant and very sustainable. While 48% agree that the cost will be significant but sustainable in the short to medium term.





Download INFOGRAPHIC of the survey results.





Get In Touch

For a confidential discussion please contact one of our offices