Nine in 10 professionals in the Mena region expect remote working to increase over the next few years, according to a new survey that analysed the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on work culture.
About three quarters of respondents in Bayt.com’s Remote Work in Mena survey said they would prefer a job that allows them to work from home while 87 per cent said they have all the resources required to carry out their job remotely.
Only 5 per cent said they do not believe the trend will not gain further traction.
“The recent shift towards remote work has radically changed the way most Mena businesses operate,” Ola Haddad, director of human resources at Bayt.com, said.
After the pandemic, many companies are expected to continue offering flexible and remote work options to save money and boost employee morale, Ms Haddad said.
Before the pandemic, the UAE – the Arab world's second-largest economy – had one of the lowest remote work participation rates in the world.
Only 10 per cent of workers in the country reported that they worked from home one to two days a week, compared to a global average of 62 per cent, a 2019 survey by the International Workplace Group showed.
However, the number increased after March 29, when the UAE government directed all public and private sector employees to work from home to help contain the spread of the coronavirus.
According to Bayt.com's report, which surveyed about 2,750 people in May and June, the coronavirus outbreak has presented employers across the region with an “opportunity to rethink the way they work”.
About 85 per cent of survey respondents said they are able to create a work environment at home that is similar to that in the office.
Remote working offers employees a variety of benefits, including flexible working hours (35 per cent), increased productivity (30 per cent) and the possibility of saving on various expenses (24 per cent), according to the respondents.
About half of the professionals interviewed said there is more room for professional growth while working from home while 89 per cent said that companies will begin to show a preference for employees who can carry out jobs independently and remotely.
According to the survey, 41 per cent of respondents said they work best without direct guidance, while only 10 per cent said they need supervision.
Remote working will also help companies reduce equipment costs and overhead costs, as well as boost employee productivity, the survey said.
However, the model is not without challenges. Almost 24 per cent of those polled said they felt disconnected while 20 per cent said working from home did not provide them with many opportunities to learn from colleagues and managers and 9 per cent complained that it led to an increased workload.