“Just under one-in-five (17.3%) employed persons in Ireland were able to fully decide the start and end of their working day, which is slightly lower than the corresponding figure for the EU27 (18.1%)”

CSO Flexibility at Work in 2019

Taking a look at the data for 2019 is a stark reminder of just how much things have changed this year, and seeing some of the results truly illustrates the differences that have been forced upon us in recent months. While a lot of people have learned to work from home without too much issue, a lot of people will have been given some flexibility with regards to their working hours given that productivity wasn’t affected too much. Less than ⅕ of people were able to make this decision last year. This gives us an idea of just how fixed our working hours were prior to COVID taking a grip of us earlier this year.

“While 13.4% of employed persons in Ireland indicated that they had been contacted for work purposes several times during their leisure time in the previous two months and were expected to act before the next working day; the corresponding figure for the EU27 was 10.1%”

CSO Flexibility at Work in 2019

Another interesting statistic shows the degree to which work overflowed into people’s personal lives. While we were only marginally above the level of other EU countries, now that most people don’t have a distinct break from their computer when work ends, it’s likely that a lot of people no longer enjoy this simple freedom quite as much as before. It is difficult to predict just how our data will stack up versus our European neighbours when 2020 data comes to light, but with lockdown measures continuing to be implemented across Europe, these numbers will be expected to increase. 

There were some incredibly interesting findings in the recent Labour Force Survey Bulletin that give us a clear insight into the differences across industries.

Those working in the Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing economic sector were most likely to be able to fully decide the start and end of their working time (60.3%) while those working in the Human Health and Social Work Activities economic sector were the least likely (7.9%).

CSO Flexibility at Work in 2019

Those who worked as Managers, directors and senior officials were most likely to be able to fully decide the start and end of their working time (42.3%) while those working in Elementary occupations, such as labourers or domestic helpers and cleaners, were the least likely (6.1%).

Does the autonomy of choosing working hours mean a lot to people? It is quite a subjective question as often the salary can vary quite significantly, for some people, the freedom makes it worth it, specifically as they near the end of their careers and are prioritising their work-life balance. Freedom can generally mean happiness, yet, for some, having a routine of a fixed daily structure helps them to stay on track. 

What works best for you?