COVID-19: Work from home witnesses resurgence across UAE

Over 70 per cent of professionals have enjoyed the flexible hours afforded with home working

Image used for illustrative purpose.

Image used for illustrative purpose.

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Concerns about the recent surge in Covid-19 cases, and the new variants of the virus, has meant that work from home policies are once more in the spotlight, with organisations looking to allow their employees more remote access to ensure their safety.

New research by Robert Walters revealed that 38 per cent of professionals in the Middle East have expressed their desire to move to full-time remote working, with a further 32 per cent wanting at least 50 per cent remote working this year.

The findings come from recruiter 2021 Salary Survey – featuring data from the firm’s annual employment trends survey undertaken by 1,000 white-collar professionals.

Jason Grundy, MD at Robert Walters Middle East, explained that while the pandemic did not necessarily bring about entirely new trends in working style, it certainly fast-tracked the inevitable around flexible working – speeding the transition up by as much a 5-10 years for some companies.

“We anticipate that some of the changes incorporated into workplaces as a result of Covid-19 in 2020 will be more enshrined in day to day working environments going forward – and for some professional industries there will be an element of remote working embedded for good,” he said.

The survey also showed that 73 per cent of professionals have enjoyed the flexible hours afforded with home working, and that 31 per cent stated that working from home has allowed for an increased focus on wellbeing. In addition, 26 per cent found that the more regular updates and check-in calls with managers and colleagues during lockdown to be a positive change to their work style.

“Taking care of employee mental health and wellness, redefining flexibility, setting the right remote working organisation, communicating new goals and targets adapted to the overall vision, and offering environments enabling work-life balance, have been key challenges faced by businesses in 2020,” said Pierre-Emmanuel Dupil, senior managing director at PageGroup, Middle East & Africa.

“How these businesses adapted to change and demonstrated resilience without losing sight of their long-term vision will have a sustainable impact on their performance and attractivity in the long run,” he added. “That said, companies that successfully navigated 2020 did so thanks to a strong company culture pre-Covid, fostered by in-person communication/interactions both internally and externally. The main challenge for business leaders in the Middle East will be to adapt their organizational design with the best of both worlds - the old and the new one to come.”

Recent research by Kaspersky also found that many employees in the UAE have discovered various novelties while working from home that they would now like to keep. The research showed that 32 per cent of employees in the UAE enjoy working outdoors in the garden or on a balcony.

The majority of respondents also said that they benefitted from simply working in comfortable clothes, with 48 per cent saying that they got used to this lifestyle and would like to make it the norm in the future. Saying goodbye to long commutes also made employees happier as they could wake up shortly before work started, while 32 per cent said that they enjoyed taking a short nap during the day. Lastly, 29 per cent said that they enjoyed having more time for takeaway lunches.


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