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Thursday 7 December 2023 Dublin: 10°C
Sasko Lazarov
Business Confidence

Most company directors think the economy will be fully reopened by the end of 2021

Nearly half of business leaders said they expect to return to the office in the fourth quarter.

MOST IRISH COMPANY directors and executives expect the economy to be fully reopened in the fourth quarter of 2021, according to a new survey.

Currently, the Government is aiming to fully vaccinate 80% of the adult population by the end of June. As of Tuesday 20 April, roughly 19% of the total population had received a first dose, according to HSE figures.

At a meeting of the Fine Gael parliamentary party on Wednesday evening, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar affirmed his belief that the target can still be met despite the slow pace of the roll-out so far. However, he added that a lack of supply, or people refusing to take the vaccine as case numbers drop, could prevent this.

According to the Institute of Directors in Ireland’s latest Director Sentiment Monitor, a quarterly survey of its members, 53% believe the vaccination of a majority of the population will allow for the full reopening of the economy in the last three months of the year. 

Some 22% of the 245 company directors and business leaders who responded to the Institute’s survey are even more optimistic and expect a full reopening between July and September on foot of a successful roll-out.

On the other hand, 17% believe it won’t be until the first quarter of 2022 and 6% expect it will later next year.

An overwhelming 67% of directors surveyed said they believe employers should continue to follow government advice around working from home for all non-essential staff.

Meanwhile, 30% of business leaders believe a continuing slow roll-out of the vaccine is the biggest threat to their companies. Just 21% say the biggest potential threat is an extension of Level 5 public restrictions beyond June.

“The reopening of much of the economy and the return of the majority of staff to company workplaces hinges significantly on the pace of the vaccination programme, with a slow rollout still seen by business leaders as the biggest risk to their organisations,” said Maura Quinn, chief executive of the Institute of Directors.

“That said, it is reassuring that a clear majority of them are of the belief that employers should continue to follow the Government’s advice with regard to working from home for all non-essential staff. Patience and compliance will serve everyone best over the coming weeks and months.”

Office return 

Nearly half of the 245 respondents believe the vaccination programme will allow their employees to return to the office in the final three months of the year.

However, 19% of respondents said they don’t expect to return to the office until at least early 2022.

Speaking to The Journal this week, Quinn said she believes working from home is here to stay and that businesses will have to ensure that staff have proper resources for remote working, especially when there’s a mixture of home and office-based working.

“Managers are going to have to work really hard to ensure integration between home and office workers,” she said.

“They’ll probably best be served in a hybrid model. In situations where people have to come in at least a couple of days a week, you can still foster that creativity and spark you get from working together in person.”

Quinn added, “Everybody I talk to misses that human interaction.

“No matter how sophisticated the tech, it doesn’t replace that human interaction. That’ll be something people need again when this is over.”

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