With the rise of new Covid-19 cases in the UAE, some companies in the UAE have scaled back their work-from-office capacity and they’re encouraging workers to work from home for the safety of the employees.

The new Covid cases have been on the rise over the last few days, increasing from less than 50 around 10 days ago to 665 on Wednesday. Despite the increase in new cases, the hospitalisation rate has remained low. Currently, only three per cent of Covid-19 patients are hospitalised.

“Work-from-home is here to stay! The majority of candidates and clients we speak to who are working from home at the moment feel that they have proved they can be trusted to be productive working from home, reducing or eliminating the need for them to be back in the office altogether,” said Waleed Anwar, managing director of Upfront HR.

If there is a need to work from home to help contain the spread of the virus, he said employers would confidently opt for the shift, having the trust in their employees to continue working efficiently.

Anwar added that firms in the UAE should be able to navigate the new variant in a calm and measured way because companies have experience dealing with the pandemic and most people are on vacation due to the festive season.

“As the number of Covid-19 cases has gone up, as a precaution, a lot of multinationals have scaled back to 50 per cent capacity and encouraging more work-from-home. This practice seems to be the new normal and something that people have adapted to very well now. So, we don’t see organisations getting flustered with the changes. This is here to stay until the pandemic is over,” said Anjali Samuel, managing partner, Mindfield Resources.

She noted that there is less angst among employees about changes in the workplace and more focus on the output.

Mayank Patel, country head of Adecco Middle East, said a significant number of companies have decided to move from existing business models to hybrid work modules including remote and flexible working.

“With a slight increase in Covid cases, some companies could continue their work-from-home arrangement, while others plan to move their backend and support function to a permanent work from home protocol. Firms that cannot provide such work from home options for certain job positions, tend to tighten their health and safety measures particularly social distancing protocols, travel restrictions, etc., to ensure the safety of the employees,” he said.

Patel suggested that companies should set up an efficient and sustainable work model until the infectious disease is completely under control.

“Offering employees flexibility over where they work can help attract and retain talent especially for job roles into backend support, technology, administration, etc. Many organisations are expected to transition to hybrid work arrangements in 2022 to maintain flexibility, reduce mental stress and burn down, thus also improving work and social life balance,” he added.

Patel stated that many businesses have created a work-from-home policy for one or two days a week, or as an exception for a few employees.

Going forward, virtual reality conferencing will become the preferred form of communication in the business world over face-to-face meetings to optimise resources, save cost on business travel, office space and infrastructure to be sustainable, he concluded.

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