Expectations around working behaviours seem to have changed for good, with 8-in-10 Irish people saying they favour a hybrid working model.

New research commissioned by Virgin Media Ireland and conducted independently by Amárach Research found that respondents said their most favoured split in remote working habits is to work three days at home/two days in the office (43pc) while 15pc said they’d prefer that in reverse (two days at home / three in the office).

The Virgin Media research surveyed over 1,200 people aged 18 and over across all regions of the country.

“During the pandemic, our homes became our offices, schools, gyms and cinemas”

With up to 11 devices now connected to the internet in every home, people rate broadband unsurprisingly as their most essential service after electricity and water.

Manifestation of a digital nation

Man in white shirt standing in front of a Virgin Media sign.

Paul Higgins, vice-president of Commercial at Virgin Media Ireland

During the pandemic 44pc of people increased their amount of streaming. As we begin to exit lockdown, seven in 10 people say they’ll watch the same or more Netflix content.

Currently, 40pc of people say they use broadband to watch between two and five hours daily watching a variety of streaming video services.

On average, 25pc of all respondents said they’re using broadband to watch video streaming services more than ever before, including Netflix, YouTube and Amazon Prime, while 20pc said they’re watching more video content on Instagram, Facebook and TikTok.

In a clear sign of online activity leading to changing consumer behaviour, nearly a third of respondents said they had started listening to more podcasts and Spotify during lockdown with nine out of 10 people saying they’ll continue to listen to the same amount or more after lockdown.

With Zoom meetings and online video calls keeping people connected with their family and friends during lockdown, half of all respondents said they’re still ‘Zooming’ for social gatherings (not work related), and overall, 40pc of us are doing this more than ever before.

Four in 10 people said they have recently published content online, from making and sharing a video, podcast, music recording or other activity, and among those who haven’t, a significant 33pc (one-third of respondents) said they’ll do it in the near future.

A third of people said they’re reading more books than ever before, both online and offline, with a total 75pc saying they regularly enjoy this much-loved pastime.

50pc of people now shop more online than they ever did before the pandemic. And, with the reopening now taking place, a strong preference has emerged for a continuing blended approach by consumers.

The research also captured a sense of people’s growing ‘need for speed’, where the average stated speed of broadband subscriptions being purchased is over 330MB download and streaming capacity. 20pc of respondents said they are availing of broadband services offering speeds between 250 Mbps (megabits per second) and 1 Gbps or higher (gigabits per second).

The findings are reflected in Virgin Media’s own network statistics, where the 1Gbps broadband provider has seen an almost 50pc increase in data usage on average per customer across its superfast network which passes 1m homes nationwide.

“The results of this research reinforces what we’ve seen in everyday life; broadband is a main driver of changing consumer behaviors,” said Paul Higgins, vice-president of Commercial at Virgin Media Ireland. “During the pandemic, our homes became our offices, schools, gyms and cinemas and while everyone is looking forward to a brighter future as we emerge from lockdown, it’s clear consumers will continue with their increased usage.

“With online video calling now accepted as a great way to stay connected with friends and family, the concept of hybrid office work here to stay for many and consumers discovering new podcasts and music to listen to, the way we use the internet has changed forever.

“This is reflected in our own data with an almost 50pc increase usage in May 2021 compared to February last year when, in 2020 as a whole, usage had soared by 80pc from 2019. We’re incredibly proud to enable this massive increase in data usage for our customers as they connect to new and different things and with Ireland’s fastest broadband network, we’re ideally placed to help fuel this change in consumer activities.”

By John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 9 June 2021