4 minute read 16 May 2023
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Smart working is here to stay and so are the benefits

As organisations and working culture evolves, so does the need to enable, engage and reward people in innovative new ways.

Smart working provides employees with the tools, culture and leadership, workspaces and technology to help them choose when, where and how they do their jobs.

Employees who feel in control of the variables in their working world are likely to have a heightened commitment to enhancing company results. Smarter working contributes to a better work-life balance, can improve staff satisfaction and retention and, ultimately, can deliver value for money for organisations.

What is smart working?

Smart working is a set of practices that add greater flexibility to work methods through innovative solutions. Flexible location, schedule, hours worked and shared responsibility are some of the markers of smart working.

Technology is already transforming the way we do business and impacting how we create, deliver and capture value. What’s more, this process is accelerating with the rise of local, social and mobile technology. Technology today is improving our ability to innovate and grow. No organisation, regardless of size, can compete without responding to this new digital age. As part of this digital age, employees are increasingly looking to their employers to provide meaningful work, in flexible environments.

Why smart working?

Increasingly, human resources are becoming the ultimate resource. However, organisations need to employ their people more efficiently and keep them engaged and inspired to do their best work.

Increasingly, remote working and the use of mobile technology is empowering staff to choose when and how to work. Smarter working could also help to break down traditional silos, away from top-down hierarchical structures to a culture of collaboration, staff empowerment and flexibility.

Smart Working is also a key way for organisations to stay ahead of disruption and cultural change. With innovation the lifeblood of business, discarding old approaches for new ways that inspire employees can produce outstanding business results. Smart working adds flexibility to where and when work is performed to increase productivity, reduce costs and improve brand reputation.

What are other organisations in Ireland doing?

As part of EY Ireland’s 2019 Diversity & Inclusion Survey Report, we asked organisations to indicate if they have a smart working culture that is ‘open to everyone’. The results show that:

While the majority of organisations (71%) indicate they have a smart working culture that is ‘open to everyone’, it is interesting to note just over half of team leads (55%) are trained or equipped to support people on their teams with smart working arrangements. This represents a significant barrier to execution.

72% of organisations also reported rewarding employees based on output and productivity rather than hours worked, a critical benchmark of a successful smart working culture.

The main motivation for the organisations surveyed providing smart working options is to improve employee work-life balance and quality of life. However, this is not the only factor. Attracting talent and improving employee freedom and autonomy are also popular reasons. Indeed, there is considerable focus on the benefits for existing talent. Interestingly, organisations that support smart working primarily to improve employee freedom and autonomy experience greater ability to attract and retain talent. They also see improved employee engagement and even strengthened cultural values.

What about the global picture?

Research conducted by EY found that:

  • 82% say that workplace technology would influence their choice to accept a new job
  • More than half (62%) of companies use flexible workers (freelancers, temps and agency)
  • 75% of millennials want the ability to work flexibly and still be on track for a promotion
  • Millennials are going to be 75% of the world’s workforce by 2025
  • Of all age groups, millennials are the most likely to quit a job because of substandard technology


With the pending Gender Pay Gap legislation front of mind for Irish organisations, significant numbers are also embracing a smart working culture as a key means of addressing that gap. Indeed, while the demand for smart working is gender neutral, it is the most common action companies took to address the gender pay gap in the UK since the implementation of legislation in 2017.

The way we work is changing. I fervently believe that the next generation of smart workers will be absolutely baffled by our current practice of commuting daily to an office block among office blocks. Smart working is here to stay. Everybody in?


Smarter working contributes to a better work-life balance, can improve staff satisfaction and retention and, ultimately, can deliver value for money for organisations.

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