Softworks Blog

Aoife ODriscoll

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The future of workplaces - virtual & flexible working to grow

Posted by Aoife ODriscoll on Mon, Apr 18, 2011

Good news for those who like working from the comfortable environment of home with a warm cup of tea at hand. Working from home or remote working is fast becoming the norm! Over the last decade, technological advancements have reduced the need for employees to be as physically present in a traditional office setting. Central to this shift are developments including high-speed Internet services, mobile technology and cloud-based collaboration services.

A recent survey from Skype shows the increasing popularity of remote working -- or "teleworking". Driven by new technologies and the benefits to both employers and workers, this trend is generating a higher level of productivity and retention. Employees save on commuting time and costs, have an improved work-life balance and are more engaged and happy in their work as a result of flexible working. Employees with a high level of job satisfaction are more loyal to their companies and have increased longevity at a company which is good news for employers.

Remote work by job type resized

Key Take Outs from the Skype Survey include:

  • Of those surveyed, 62% of businesses allow employees to work remotely either full time or part time.
  • 57% of businesses allow employees to work flexible hours.
  • 71% of businesses report flexible remote working helps them to attract potential employees.
  • Larger businesses are more likely to allow remote working than small businesses.
  • IT/MIS and engineering are among the professions more likely to work remotely.
  • New communications technologies, such as video, are making communication more productive and collaborative away from the office. 
  • Of the workers who use video, 68% reported experiencing richer and more productive communication with colleagues, clients and suppliers.
  • Email and landline phone usage is expected to decline, while social media, IM/chat, texting and other newer technologies are on the rise.
  • The communications tool that is expected to have the biggest gain in usage next year is video calling.

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In our next blog post we will look at what technologies workplaces are adopting and will adopt in the future. Interested readers can find out more about Skype's research on the future of workplaces by visiting Skype's website. Many thanks to all at Skype for sharing this research with us.  

Topics: Flexible Working

Flexible working, career, children - can working mothers balance it all?

Posted by Aoife ODriscoll on Fri, Apr 1, 2011

She never quite leaves her children at home, even when she doesn't take them along.” Margaret Culkin Banning

Where would we be without our mothers? And how do they manage to do it all? In the nearly 100 years since World War 1, women have moved from primarily working at home to making up 46% of the workforce worldwide today and over 31% in developing countries. (United Nations) As working motherhood becomes the norm, the need for flexibility in the workplace remains more pertinent than ever.

Hot off the press is a very insightful survey from the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) which looks at childcare patterns across 22 countries worldwide. As you would expect, whether or not parents are working determines how much time they have to spend on childcare. Fathers and mothers who are not working spend more time caring for their children than their working counterparts. Interestingly, non-working fathers still devote less time to childcare than working mothers in nearly all countries surveyed.  

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Across the 22 countries for which data is available, parents devote on average 1 hour and 12 minutes per day to childcare. Non-working fathers care for their children for 51 minutes per day while mothers who do not work care for their children for 144 minutes per day.  In contrast, working fathers care for their children for 40 minutes a day compared with 74 minutes for working mothers. Total time devoted to childcare is lowest in Korea, Belgium and Hungary and highest in Australia and Ireland.

With great demands on the time of today’s employees, organisations are recognising the importance of acknowledging employees commitments outside the workplace.  According to our research, 91% of employers feel a responsibility to provide work-life balance initiatives to their employees. Flexible working has manifold benefits to both employers and employees. Introducing flexible working into an organisation also gives employers a greater talent pool including mothers.

In honour of mother’s day, we would like to ask both working mum and dads what are your best tips for balancing your career and family life? We would love to hear your views…

For more on flexible working, click here to read our white paper on flexible working and flexitime.


  • Miranda, V. (2011), “Cooking, Caring and Volunteering: Unpaid Work Around the World”, OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers, No. 116, OECD
  • Regus, Flexible Working Goes Global. March 2011.
  • United Nations, Women at a Glance. 

Topics: Flexitime / Flexible Working Hours Arrangement

Absence management is critical with 3.9 million days lost each year

Posted by Aoife ODriscoll on Fri, Mar 18, 2011

A report from the Small Firms Association reveals that small businesses in Ireland lose over €563 million per annum through absenteeism. In 2009, 3.9 million days were lost in small businesses across Ireland. According to the report, workers in small companies are less likely to miss work through illness than workers in medium or large firms.

Key findings from the report reveal:
· The national average level of absenteeism is 8 days
· Small firm average is 5 days
· Medium firm average is 8 days
· Large firm average is 10 days

Absenteeism costs small businesses with sick pay schemes €563 million per annum, based on average earnings of €143 per day. According to Avine McNally, Acting Director of the Small Firms Association: “This takes no account of other direct costs such as the requirement to replace absent staff with other workers or overtime payments, and the cost of medical referrals; or of the indirect costs such as the effect on productivity and quality, the increased work pressure on other colleagues, and the admin time in managing absence. The overall cost in reality could be in closer to €900m.”

Woman with cold XS

Back pain and stress are the biggest contributors to absenteeism. Manufacturing is the industry showing the highest level of absenteeism, followed by distribution, services and retail. The West and North West show the highest levels of absenteeism with an average 9.1 and 7.2 days respectively, while the Mid-West and South East report the lowest levels of absences.



Average Absence Rate (%)















Source: Small Firms Association 2009 Absenteeism Report

To learn how to effectively reduce absenteeism in your organisation today read our articles on how to reduce absenteeism in the workplace and its related costs and on employee illness.

Contact us to learn how our time sheet software can help you reduce absenteeism today.

Topics: Time & Attendance