In retrospect, over the last 18 months, most organisations had to pivot at great speed from primarily traditional working models to remote work. And doing so forced them to quickly adapt their operating models to address entirely new work-related challenges and practices, experiment with new ways of working, and take risks that were unthinkable just a few years ago.
Given the success of this transition, Middle Eastern organsations have the opportunity to radically rethink and transform their approach to their people and the workplace.
Where are we now
While most companies in the Middle East shifted to remote working during the peak of the pandemic, many have now reverted back to all office days – even if an employee’s physical presence is not required.
However, the new world of work will involve different combinations of work models, depending on the industry, type of activity, corporate culture, etc.
Undoubtedly, there are many benefits to employees being physically present in the office – from better collaboration and teamwork to quick conversations that drive results, and a greater sense of belonging, just to name a few.
On the other hand, the remote work culture develops a sense of loyalty in a lot of staff, with most employees saying they would be less likely to explore new job opportunities if their current employer allows them to work in a flexible arrangement, according to a new survey by networking and telecommunications hardware company Cisco.
The study, which polled 1,050 full-time workers across the UAE, found that almost 90 percent of professionals want to work either in a hybrid or fully remote working model in the future.
Overall, UAE workers who were given the opportunity to do their jobs outside the office said that remote working has made them happier and more motivated.
Remote work challenges
Although remote working brings many benefits, employees also have experienced some challenges on daily basis, including ‘Zoom fatigue’.
Organisations can empower remote workers by forming the right culture and advocating the benefits of “shorter screen times” and better work-life balance. For example, companies can influence and actively encourage Zoom-free days or afternoons, promote shorter meetings and enforce breaks. In all instances, leaders will need to lead by example.
It is also important to share hints and tips with colleagues on best meeting practices and invest in ‘chat’ technology to reduce both the need for meetings and excessive emails.
Beyond geographic boundaries
There are definite geographically and demographical opportunities for organisations to expand their talent base beyond traditional sources. Remote working has removed some of the physical barriers that previously restricted access to talent pools across cities, countries, and even continents.
However, the ability to understand and respond to local market nuances and customer needs means that the types of roles that can be performed 100% remotely are further limited.
The future of the workplace
Looking ahead, flexible working arrangements will be important not only for the younger generations, but for all professionals. An organisation’s culture should empower and entrust its team to deliver and drive results, whether they are travelling, in a physical office, or working remotely.
The pandemic has called for companies to update their work plans and create a future of work that is more relevant, inclusive and rethought for everyone in the post-pandemic world.
What that future of work looks like depends on the organisation; it will definitely be more fluid, agile, and involve greater employee choice.
At Binding Partnerships, we believe in building a more people-centric leadership culture, promoting employee wellness, and being more aware of and sensitive to mental wellbeing.
All in all, organisations in the Middle East need to build a culture that empowers employees to deliver in a hybrid environment, promoting diversity, and enhancing the digital experience for both employees and clients.