A new survey shows that 37% of business leaders do not foresee the majority of staff being in the office and or workplace until the second quarter of 2022.

The new Institute of Directors (IoD) in Ireland survey also shows that 30% of bosses think most staff will be back in the workplace in the first quarter of this year.

Just 8% believe it will be in January, while only 6% believe it will be in February, the IoD's Sentiment Monitor survey adds.

The new research also reveals that business leaders see the biggest risk facing their organisations as a return of tight public health restrictions caused by Covid-19 and its variants.

Business leaders also viewed global supply chain issues and the rising costs of raw materials as risks for the year.

But there is a note of optimism, with 31% of business leaders now more optimistic about the economy than the previous quarter, with 28% more pessimistic and 41% signifying "no change" from the previous three months.

Maura Quinn, chief executive of the Institute of Directors in Ireland, said that with many staff returning to the workplace for at least some of the time during autumn 2021, the emergence of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 has seen a significant return to remote working.

"While the rollout of the booster vaccine programme has been swift and widespread, it looks like the public health restrictions already in place will remain so for the foreseeable future," Ms Quinn said.