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Jun 2020

UAE workers stay productive during work-from-home

Source: Middle East Insurance Review | Jun 2020

The rise in home working driven by the COVID-19 pandemic has not significantly affected staff productivity in the UAE, according to research by Willis Towers Watson.
 
The pandemic has forced UAE businesses into a massive experiment in working from home, and many employers are relieved at how well staff productivity has held up, or even increased, said Willis Towers Watson Middle East head of employee insights Thom Janssen. 
 
In the survey, 22% of UAE employers said new working arrangements have actually increased productivity, 11% said there had been no change, while 39% said there was only a small negative impact. No employer reported a large impact, and just 11% said any productivity drop was ‘moderate’. 
 
The move from the office to working from home during the pandemic is a major shift in business practices in the UAE, the survey noted. Two thirds of employers (66%) now said that over 75% of their workforce is working remotely. Prior to COVID-19, the vast majority (81%) said less than 10% of their workforce worked remotely.
 
“The UAE has always strived to be a leader in smart working and, as we emerge from this crisis, this is a great opportunity to re-imagine how work can get done. Employers have seen that staff can be just as productive away from the office, and that may spark a greater shift to more agile working options, which could have implications for office real estate and the wider economy,” said Mr Janssen.
 
The survey also looked at what employers are doing to help staff cope with the pressures and changes caused by COVID-19, and found:
  • 42% of employers have increased staff access to counselling services, with a further 17% planning to do so.
  • 41% of businesses have removed any exclusions or limitations relating to pandemics from staff medical/life/disability plans, with 7% planning to do so.
  • 64% are running virtual social engagement initiatives for teams and departments, to help people stay in touch and socialise, with a further 17% planning to do so.
  • Although 97% of companies are regularly communicating with staff to keep them updated, most are not doing enough to listen to their workforce at this critical time. Since the COVID-19 crisis started, only 15% have surveyed their staff to ask them their views and needs. M 
 
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