Census 2022: 32% working from home for at least part of week

Big increase in numbers working, with 2.3m in employment but number of retired people also increasing, rising to 658,000


The changes in workforce demographics reported in the census largely reflect longer-term patterns but the impact of the pandemic is clear in the huge rise in those working from home last year.

That 32 per cent of a substantially larger workforce now perform at least a portion of their working week from home represents a dramatic change on previous data.

It, along with figures for what times people are leaving home for their external place of work and how long it is taking them to get there, will feed into a debate on how and where we work that is heating up again as Covid-19 restrictions become a memory.

In the most general terms, the census confirms a big increase in the number of people working – 2.3 million – within which older men and younger women are increasingly well represented.


The pace of the increase in female participation has slowed and is up just 1 per cent on 2016 to 56 per cent. In 1981, it was just 30 per cent. The number of women staying away from the workforce in order to run households or mind children on a full-time basis continues to decline, meanwhile, with 40,000 fewer last year compared with 2016. The corresponding figure for men was up a by a third but from a far lower base.

The total number of retired people rose to 658,000, a majority of them women, and the ageing population is likely one factor in the increased number of health sector workers, with the total up 27 per cent to 270,000.

When it came to the growing flexibility around where work is done, some 750,000 people said they worked at least one day a week from home. Up to 80 per cent of people in while collar sectors like business, media and public service professionals are being spared a daily commute but the figure is just 3 per cent for those working in postal and delivery services.

That many would see the avoidance of a daily commute that takes 29 minutes on average and more than 50 minutes for those travelling by train, Dart or bus is no great surprise, particularly given that there are substantially more people having leaving their homes before 7am.

Many more primary and secondary students are cycling to and from school, meanwhile, with the figures up 88 per cent and 79 per cent respectively. The news is not all positive, though, with 55 per cent of younger people being driven to school, while the number of adults taking the car to work is up by 4 per cent.

One of the more surprising findings was that the number of third levels students walking or cycling to college has fallen.

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone is Work Correspondent at The Irish Times