As energy bills go up and temperatures go down, will employees choose to return to the workplace and stop working remotely?

CIPD Ireland, which represents HR professionals, says high energy costs could affect the current debate about the amount of time spent remote working.

Director Mary Connaughton said high energy and high heating costs could lead to more seasonality in how people want to use the office versus wanting to work from home.

"We are certainly very conscious that our members and employees have real concerns over the cost of living crisis," she said.

Mary Connaughton, Director, CIPD Ireland

"Part of this has to look at the cost of heating the home, versus going to the office, and we certainly know that for those with a low commuting cost, that there could be substantial savings from spending more time in the office than actually trying to heat their home," she said.

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Businesses, too, face rising bills for energy and heat. Ms Connaughton said they could choose to restrict the number of days staff are in the office, saving heating the office for five days a week.

"We could see that they might start to say, well if our office is relatively empty on Mondays and Fridays, do we need to heat it on those days?

"We will have two different challenges going on here, employers and employees will be looking at this. The more flexibility that employers can give to employees, the better from a cost of living perspective," she said.

There is a remote working tax benefit available for employees, and there is another scheme which see employers give a €3.20 daily remote working allowance to employees working at home, which is free of tax, PRSI and USC.

CIPD research shows that only 10% of employers are using that as a benefit. "We do think there is much more scope for employers to bring in that allowance scheme," Ms Connaughton said.