The CSO released data on the working environment for 2019 which gave us a stark insight into just how much our work-life balances has turned upside down this year. The data indicated that for employees in Ireland in 2019, hours worked were most likely to be recorded automatically (39.1%) which is slightly higher than the corresponding figure for the EU27 (33.1%). This lack of autonomy was perceived to be an indication of why stress levels are higher in Ireland than in other EU countries.

“The percentage of those in employment in Ireland who reported they are Always under pressure at work (15.4%) is higher than the average for the EU27 (11.0%) with Ireland ranking fourth highest of all member states”


As we have all begun to live in a world enshadowed by a global pandemic, stress levels are surely on the rise. Perhaps putting things in perspective, and reminding us of just how different we used to have it, is a good prompt for people to begin taking joy from the simple things that we hope are on the horizon.

Job Autonomy and Pressure at Work in 2019

Another CSO report that was released in October gave us interesting data on the amount of flexibility European workers are given in their occupation, quite an interesting topic considering just how much people have seen their normally boring jobs change in nature since the pandemic consumed almost everything in March earlier this year. 

In 2019, the employer was most likely to decide when employed persons in Ireland started and finished work (64.8%); this is slightly higher than the corresponding figure for the EU27 (60.8%)

Being offered such an interesting comparison on last year’s working conditions would ordinarily lead is to begin juxtaposing ourselves with our neighbours on our work lives, but in all honestly, all this data gives us is a shaking reminder of what reality used to be as little as 12 months ago. While many people have more control over their working agreements now than they did in 2019, a lot of industries have been torn apart by the pandemic, and not only do they not choose when they work, they can no longer work. 

Flexibility at Work in 2019

Arguably the most interesting of the CSO’s October reports was the data released on working locations for 2019. Who would have predicted that we’d all be working from our attics/ spare rooms/ bedrooms/ kitchen tables if we had been asked this time last year?

The main place of work for persons employed in Ireland in 2019 was in the employers’ premises or their own premises (78.3%) which is very similar to the rate in the EU27 (79.0%)

Ireland ranked fourth highest of the EU27 for the percentage who report Home to be their main place of work of those employed in 2019 with a rate of 5.4% compared to the EU27 rate of 2.9%

Only the very lucky members of society saw their home as their office and vice versa in 2019, or so we would have stated, now, it seems that many of us crave the normalcy of the office, the daily commute, and the familiar faces we used to share our seamlessly standard daily lunch breaks with. There is a lot to miss about this past reality, but also a lot to look forward to should it return. 

Main Place of Work and Commuting Time in 2019

What we have seen in 2020 is a dynamic shift of fairly immense proportions/ Not since the industrial revolution has we seen so many members of society see their occupations affected on a global scale. People are demanding change, and are now adamant that working from home be a part of their working contract. 

“The figure for those who want to remain working remotely five days a week (27pc) has more than doubled when compared to the figure from the first national survey conducted by the NUI Galway and the Western Development Commission team in April, when it was 12pc in the immediate aftermath of the lockdown.”

While we should likely take data from early in the pandemic with a pinch of salt, the results are too interesting to ignore. Even though time has passed, and the novelty has worn off, workers enjoy the autonomy of working away from the watchful eye of their employers, and they are not too fond of going back any time soon.