Organisations need to look beyond the need for survival, and view the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic as an opportunity to reinvent their business operations to be more transparent, agile, and effective, experts at the 2020 Remote Workforce Summit said.
Organised and hosted by Khaleej Times, the two-day conference brings together over 500 remote-first leaders and more than 20 handpicked global experts to discuss managing and enabling change across the digital workspace through live interviews, informal chats, and case studies. The virtual conference is brought together with the support of several key sponsors including Automation Anywhere, Nutanix, Blue Prism, Oracle, TeamViewer, Poly, Forcepoint, ITQAN, Tata Communications, Software AG, and Mindware RSA.
"The UAE, and the rest of the region, places a special emphasis on face-to-face meetings as part of trust building, but, now we are facing a new situation, where we are dealing with a reality where this is not the case," he said. "As leaders, it is up to you to set clear instructions and guidelines on how to proceed."
His insights were similar to the observations made by Abiy Yeshitla, vice president for the Gulf states, Oracle Corporation, UAE, who said: "The clients we work with value relationships. The culture here revolves around lunch and breakfast meetings, but, as these past few months have shown, the region has adapted very well to the challenges posed by the epidemic."
Decentralized organisation as a response
Benjamin Ampen, regional managing director for the Mena region at Twitter UAE, highlighted how many orgamisations have had to switch to a decentralized structure as a result of the social distancing measures introduced across the UAE.
"We had already started working as a decentralized organization before the lockdown," he said. "For us, the focus on employees and their health has always been the priority. The UAE has actually been very fast to adapt to the changes that were brought about during the lockdown. What will remain important, when creating a business model in the future, is for companies to take into account the challenges faced by employees."
Needs of the young workforce
Debbie Stanford-Kristiansen, CEO of Novo Cinemas, UAE, said that there have been several success stories that have come out of the 'work from home' model.
"We heard from parents who said that they were able to spend more time engaging with their kids, and that this was not possible for them before," she said. "I think that this is a positive step to the future where we will have to think of it as work-life integration, and not work-life balance."
"This has also given us the opportunity to focus more on the needs of our young workforce," she said. "The response that companies have made to the challenges of the pandemic will be scrutinised by the emerging generation of young jobseekers. We know that they actively look at what makes an employer attractive, and this includes working from home models, empathy and support during a crisis, and an understanding of people's home situation."
Similarly, Arda Atalay, regional director for the Mena region at LinkedIn, UAE, highlighted the needs of the region's dynamic workforce. "This pandemic has given us the opportunity to pause and learn. We are an advocate of compassionate leadership, but this does not mean that we have to compromise on being ambitious - they both can go hand in hand."
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