Ireland has a "remarkable" number of people working from home since the pandemic, according to new research.
A survey from BNP Paribas Real Estate has found that of the 27 EU member states, Ireland has come out on top when it comes to the adoption of remote working.
While the Netherlands has the highest percentage of its workforce remote working, Ireland is leading the way in terms of how quickly remote working is taking the place of traditional in-office working.
In 2019, Ireland had fewer than 20% of our employees working from home – by 2023 it has reached 36.2%, in the biggest shift in the EU pre and post-COVID.
On Breakfast Briefing this morning, BNP Paribas Real Estate spokesperson John McCartney said Ireland's level of education is one of the significant factors in the move toward remote working.
"Ireland has the second highest rate of tertiary education among employees across the EU," he said.
"54% of employees in Ireland have some form of third level or further education after leaving school – obviously, that is correlated with the ability to work from home."
Of a working population of over 2.6 million, there are now 940,000 people sometimes or usually working from home, Mr McCartney said.
"That really is remarkable – what it implies is that most people in desk-based jobs are working from home at least some of the time."
In Ireland, the United States and the United Kingdom especially, remote working has become "sticky", Mr McCartney said.
"People have gotten used to working from home," he said.
"As much as some employers might like to see more of them in the office, people don't want to do it.
"They want to continue to enjoy the benefits of that flexible work, while sometimes showing their face in the office just to stay connected."
Mr McCartney said there has been a lot of "anxiety" in the real estate industry as the demand for business spaces may reduce.
"What working from home has enabled employers to do is to reduce the office space per employee ratio," he said.
"Traditionally, we have had a rule of thumb where for every employee, organisations would lease 10 square metres of space.
"With the advent of working from home, they may now be well able to reduce that down to six or seven square metres ... that would clearly subtract from the demand for office space."
Mr McCartney said the "big caveat" to the issue of demand for business space is that "jobs growth is happening all the time under the surface".
"Anything that's lost in the swings in terms of reduced office space per employee ratio is more than gained through the jobs growth."
Despite predictions by the real estate industry, Mr McCartney said companies have not expressed interest in moving commercial properties to the outskirts of cities.
"Nearly all of the leasing action in the office market has been concentrated in the city centre," he said.
What it tells us is that, at the end of the day, firms want to be in a single location that suits the majority of their staff."