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EU PolicyWatch

Database of national-level policy measures

Eurofound's EU PolicyWatch collates information on the responses of government and social partners to the COVID-19 crisis, the war in Ukraine, rising inflation, as well as gathering examples of company practices aimed at mitigating the social and economic impacts.

Factsheet for measure IE-2020-12/1769 – measures in Ireland

Ervia: Agile work programme aided move to remote working during pandemic

Country Ireland , applies nationwide
Time period Open ended, started on 15 March 2020
Context COVID-19
Type Company practices
Category Protection of workers, adaptation of workplace
– Teleworking arrangements, remote working
Author Roisin Farelly (IRN Publishing) and Eurofound
Measure added 07 February 2021 (updated 08 February 2021)

Background information

Ervia is the semi-state multi-utility company responsible for the delivery of Ireland’s national gas and water infrastructure and services. Ervia is composed of three businesses: Aurora telecom, Gas Networks Ireland and Irish Water. The company employs 1,900 people across locations in Cork, Dublin, and in several regional offices.

Ervia implemented ‘Agile’ working in 2018 and prior to March 2020, 57% of Ervia’s workforce were availing of working from home, with 30% of the workforce working from home one day a week. IT systems were in place to support remote working and there was clear guidance on this working arrangement. According to the Western Development Commission & Whitaker Institute NUI Galway Report of the Expert Group on Remote Working, this “allowed Ervia to operate remotely effectively when the COVID pandemic occurred.”

In late January 2020, the company mobilized its Crisis Management Teams (CMT) to provide reassurance to staff regarding safety procedures, to ensure essential services would continue and to test business continuity procedures. In March, Ervia moved quickly to remote working for most staff with front line workers ensuring essential services are maintained. The company provided equipment such as chairs, IT equipment and other supports to employees.

Content of measure

After six months, the company performed a review of the remote working arrangements. A number of benefits were identified including:

Reduction in commuting times More control over employees’ personal time Reduction in business travel Continuing to deliver objectives and no drop off in productivity.

Challenges identified include:

Lack of dedicated workspace at home Difficulty switching off in the evenings A loss of social connection with colleagues Limitations to effective collaboration, innovation and creativity

The company identified a number of considerations for the company:

Updating guidelines and supports to accommodate a mix of home and remote work Finding the balance between allowing employees to determine their schedule with the requirement for certain teams to be in the office on the same days, to maximize the social and collaborative benefits Making the most efficient use of office location Technology investment required to enable an effective hybrid workforce

Ervia also identified the issue of employee mental health and wellbeing as key concern. “A further concern in respect of the continuance of remote working is the social isolation and the impact this may have on employee’s mental health and wellbeing. While employers can put various programmes and practices into place to promote wellbeing and support mental health initiatives, the benefits of spending time in a physical office location with colleagues must not be underestimated.”

Furthermore, “while we recognize that employees have many different home working arrangements that are acceptable in the short term, longer term solutions will have to be put in place that continues to support workers who are now likely to have a greater mix of home work in the future.”

Use of measure

N/A

Contents

  • Health and safety
  • Telework
  • Work organisation
  • Working time flexibility

Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Applies to all workers Sector specific set of companies
Does not apply to citizens

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
Company / Companies
Companies

Social partners

Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:

Trade unions Employers' organisations
Role Consulted No involvement
Form Consultation through tripartite or bipartite social dialogue bodies Not applicable

Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:

  • Only trade unions
  • Main level of involvement: Company level

Involvement

The company's group of unions were consulted in the remote working process. Currently, the company and unions are engaged in negotiations in the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) regarding pay increases, remote working costs and the performance related awards system.

Views and reactions

Information not available.

Sectors and occupations

    • Economic area Sector (NACE level 2)
      D - Electricity, Gas, Steam And Air Conditioning Supply D35 Electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply
      E - Water Supply; Sewerage, Waste Management And Remediation Activities E36 Water collection, treatment and supply

This case is not occupation-specific.

Sources

  • 17 December 2020: ‘Remote-first’ work culture promoted by expert group (www.irn.ie)
  • 18 December 2020: The Western Development Commission & Whitaker Institute NUI Galway Report of the Expert Group on Remote Working (whitakerinstitute.ie)
  • 21 January 2021: Ervia applies backdated pay increase for 2020 (www.irn.ie)

Citation

Eurofound (2021), Ervia: Agile work programme aided move to remote working during pandemic, measure IE-2020-12/1769 (measures in Ireland), EU PolicyWatch, Dublin, https://static.eurofound.europa.eu/covid19db/cases/IE-2020-12_1769.html

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Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process.