UAE telecom operator e&, formerly known as Etisalat, has kicked off a four-day workweek trial, becoming the first company in the tech sector to respond to a global call to provide more flexibility to workers.

The reduced workweek is being piloted for staff across three departments in the UAE, the ADX-listed firm said in a statement on Thursday.

Employees who take part in the trial will be entitled to a three-day weekend from Friday to Sunday.

The truncated workweek is aimed at improving employee engagement and wellbeing, the company said.

By fostering an environment where employees feel valued and are empowered to balance their work and personal lives, e& said it seeks to drive more workplace innovations.

“We are thrilled to pilot this initiative. Just as we continuously innovate in our products and services, we also recognise the need to modernise workplace strategies. What may have worked in the past may not be suitable for the future,” said Dena Almansoori, Group Chief Human Resources Officer at e&.

The company already operates a hybrid workplace, with staff members working remotely a couple of days a week to “focus on sustainability by reducing energy consumption” in the office and carbon emissions through transport.

Some companies around the world started embracing flexibility in the workplace by adopting a shorter workweek after the COVID-19 pandemic. Trials have been rolled out in countries like the UK, Africa, the United States, Ireland and Australasia.

According to a report published by the World Economic Forum (WEF), reduced workweek has created a positive impact, with workers citing improved productivity and wellbeing, and companies seeing lower electricity costs.

(Writing by Cleofe Maceda; editing by Brinda Darasha)