Why leaders should accept the changes sweeping workplaces

Embracing change in an era of remote and hybrid working can help businesses thrive

A photo of multi-ethnic businesswomen discussing. Arab Emirati women are in traditional abaya clothes and Caucasian female is in western dress. Professionals are at conference table, in brightly lit modern office discussing business cooperation. Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
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I’ve always been interested in how work is conducted and how it impacts productivity. I find myself influenced by the space I am working in and by the time of day.

For example, I conduct my best work during the early morning hours. I also produce my best work in sunlit rooms.

The Covid-19 pandemic and latest advancements in artificial intelligence and ChatGPT shifted the way leaders perceive work.

Four day work week? - Business Extra

Four day work week? - Business Extra

For many, they witnessed how working remotely didn’t affect productivity and have thus embraced the new system or a hybrid working model.

I work a lot with freelancers, from designers to writers and IT experts, and one thing I know that works best in my industry is providing freelancers with work targets instead of certain work hours.

A writer I worked with produces her best work during the early morning hours. Sticking to a 9 to 5 job format wouldn’t have been the best work set-up in her case.

But she loves to meet in person when it comes to discussing ideas. We had a hybrid working model for her; she would come into the office for meetings and work from home when she needed to write.

Employees across the world now look for perks provided by a job in addition to a good paycheque, such as the option to work from home at least one day a week.

This year, the UAE announced that 70 per cent of public sector employees can work remotely on Fridays during Ramadan. The decision has been popular with many.

Remote and hybrid working models are here to stay. A 2022 survey by management consultant McKinsey reveals that 87 per cent of Americans would work remotely if given the option. Upwork and DropBox offer permanent work from home options.

The future of work is one of the most popular discussions on Twitter, especially with concerns around ChatGPT and AI affecting work cultures.

Leaders need to acknowledge that change is sweeping the workplace. The faster this fact is accepted, the quicker leaders can move towards the future of their businesses.

Change, especially when it affects work cultures, should be implemented in co-ordination with staff.

Depending on the size and nature of an organisation, leaders should take the concerns of their employees into consideration.

How many people would like to work remotely? And how many actually want to work in an office? Leaders need to acknowledge that people work differently and there is no one size that fits all.

If an hybrid or remote working option is provided to staff, then leadership needs to ensure that employees are equipped for that set-up with laptops or other devices and through workshops that teach them how to manage their time and achieve their goals away from the office.

This also means that risk measures should be in place to prevent data breaches.

AI is advancing quickly and while it could mean the end of some roles, it could also mean that we need to repurpose roles.

There has never been a time in history — until now — that technology could serve and aid us in leading teams seamlessly across the world.

Leaders need to study how they could repurpose roles of their employees in a way where technological advancements work hand in hand with employees and help businesses prosper.

In a changing business world, workplace cultures that appreciate their employees’ needs, embrace change and repurpose roles in light of the technological advancements are the ones that will thrive.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer and communications consultant based in Abu Dhabi

Updated: April 17, 2023, 4:00 AM