One in four employers say they are concerned about a possible decline in productivity as they move to a hybrid working model.

The finding is contained in a survey of 160 businesses here carried out by professional services firm Aon.

About 60% of the businesses said they were unclear as to whether the complexity of managing a hybrid workforce would restrict its ability to innovate.

Just under a quarter of respondents said they were confident that a hybrid working model would not restrict innovation within the business.

The findings point to a relatively high degree of uncertainty among firms as the return of staff to the workplace continues and organisations develop new working models.

Just over half of participants in the survey said they would provide greater flexibility for employees.

An initial phased return was given the go ahead by the Government last month.

However, in light of rising Covid-19 case numbers and hospitalisations in recent days, an acceleration of the plan may be postponed.

Restrictions on returning to the workplace were on course to be lifted from next Friday October 22.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Ronan Glynn advised at the weekend that people should work from home where possible throughout this autumn and winter.

Cybersecurity to the fore

The inaugural Business Risk Index from Aon also pointed to cybersecurity issues as the top concern facing businesses as they develop new work models.

Half of all Irish businesses said 'phishing' was the greatest cyber risk to their organisation at the moment.

Around one in four were concerned about possible ransomware attacks on their business.

Companies are taking steps to enhance their cyber resilience and preparedness with cyber-security training to employees as well as enhanced data recovery and back-up systems.

"We would encourage Irish business leaders to review whether they have the right technology and cyber security strategy as well as a supportive culture in place to spark creativity – irrespective of where employees are located," Peter Brady, CEO of Commercial Risk & Health Solutions, Aon in Ireland, said.

"Leaders must take action to foster an organisational culture that nurtures collaboration and prioritises outcomes rather than processes," he added.