Office environments are still vital for successful business operations with 87 percent surveyed by Savills saying they believe a return to the workplace is essential.

Nearly eight out of 10 or 77 percent, said that they preferred to conduct team, client and one-on-one meetings in an office setting and 81 percent said they found the office best suited to undertake group projects and tasks. But the majority said tasks such as reviewing documents and conducting phone or video calls are better done at home.

Overall, Savills, said their Office Fit Survey 2021, which surveyed 100,000 people drawn from tenants, landlords and office walkers across Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), revealed a strong preference among respondents for returning to a predominantly office-based work environment, but with a fair degree of flexibility. 

The majority also believe there will be a long-term impact on the design and size of workplace, with high-density open plan workspaces needing to be rethought and reconfigured to allow agile working, the real estate company said.

Steven Morgan, CEO of Savills Middle East said: “The findings of our survey echo the trends we are witnessing around the world, as employers welcome back employees to the workplace while they take a relook at how traditional workplaces are configured.

Savills highlighted recent changes to the UAE labour laws which it said would better accommodate flexible working patterns that were increasingly adopted during the pandemic, including part-time and temporary work, freelancing, condensed working weeks and shared job models.

Speaking at a discussion on the Future of Work at District 2020, Expo 2020, Richard Paul, head of professional services and consultancy at Savills Middle East, said: “The pandemic demonstrated that working from home or outside of a traditional office can be successful when supported by technology.

“However, to sustain an organisation's culture over time, human interaction is critical. Our esteemed panellists unanimously agreed that the office remains critical, however, there is a growing preference for a flexible, agile, and hybrid workplace. 

He added: “It remains to be seen whether the world returns to working from the office full-time or if hybrid working is here to stay.”

The UAE also announced this week that the working week will change, reducing to four and a half days, with the weekend shifting to Saturday and Sunday.

(Reporting by Imogen Lillywhite; editing by Seban Scaria)

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