Photo has been used for illustrative purposes.
Imran Mojib, Special Correspondent
The growing trend of working remotely is set to be the new norm for the foreseeable future, with employers developing more flexible ways to conduct work. This will lead to a more agile, human-centered, inclusive system that depends on individuals as much as the management of their companies. To meet this rapid change, key policies and processes will need to be put in place, revealed a new report.
Prepared by Dubai Future Foundation, the report titled “Life After COVID-19: Workspaces” was launched on Wednesday. It looks into the future of work post the novel virus, the notion of social distancing and what regulatory implications and work models arise from working remotely.
Khalfan Belhoul, CEO of Dubai Future Foundation said, “The outputs of this report will be used to draw a clearer outlook of Dubai’s future in the coming period and deep dives in specific on the future of work, looking into the necessary policies and regulations that needs to be implemented to ensure business continuity, and propose new work models that can potentially be exported globally.” The report stressed that organisations need to have a ‘business continuity plan’ to ensure that essential tasks are carried out. Other jobs that are rarely undertaken remotely will need to be rethought, with a view to employees using their skills and knowledge for other forms of work.
Abdulaziz Al Jaziri, Deputy CEO and COO of Dubai Future Foundation said that the foundation is working on hosting virtual dialogues discussing what the future holds post COVID-19, providing an opportunity for all members of society as well as experts to share their views, ideas and recommendations.
Working remotely has typically been common in certain sectors, such as IT, marketing, app development and some forms of retail. It has led to increased productivity, virtual collaboration, and for some companies, lower costs, including office rental, travel and events. Companies that have adopted remote working policies have also been able to reduce their carbon footprint, with employees commuting less; therefore, using less energy.
Working remotely has been proven to be a well-suited solution to certain forms of activity such as ‘deep work’, where intensive research and thinking is required. A study done by Global Workplace Analytics found that remote workers have grown by 140 per cent since 2005. Owl Labs, a leader in immersive video conferencing technology, reported that 16 per cent of global companies are exclusively hiring for remote job opportunities.
By 2028, a study by UpWork, a work-from-home platform, estimates 73 per cent of all department will have remote workers. The report states remote working is appropriate for certain types of businesses, the most important of which time-consuming research and thinking.
In the short term, the reports finds that HR policies will need to adapt to the current situation, focusing on employee happiness and productivity.
In the longer term, employers will need to consider whether working remotely may be beneficial for employees, and whether jobs can be automated or digitised to allow for more multi-disciplinary work. Creativity will increase as traditional jobs are replaced. As well-being workplace models are implemented, they will need to be designed to achieve and maintain happiness at work and avoid mental health issues.
With a clear directive from the government, public entities, private companies and all educational bodies in the UAE have begun working remotely. Given the current situation, flexible working has opened wider questions around the nature of work, including that of whether a permanent office workspace is actually necessary.
The report also addresses people’s concerns related to how these new changes will affect their careers, and how they will interact with their peers, as they are curious to know how remote working will affect their relationships with their employers and how it will affect the visa process that is already in place. They wonder about how productivity is measured and whether people can continue to find value in their work if much of it becomes digital.
Guidelines issued by UAE’s Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratization to ensure remote-working goes smoothly in private sector establishments amid the restrictions due to Covid-19, underlines the obligations of both employers and employees.
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