Thirty-eight per cent of professionals in the Middle East want to work from home permanently even after Covid-19 subsides, according to a new report analysing the impact of the pandemic on work culture.
A further 32 per cent of those surveyed also said they would like a hybrid working model, spending at least 50 per cent of their time working remotely this year, the survey by global recruitment consultancy Robert Walters said.
“2020 was the year of the world’s largest remote working experiment and employers would be amiss to think that there wouldn’t be some long-term changes to employee expectations as a result,” Jason Grundy, managing director at Robert Walters Middle East, said.
“We anticipate that some of the changes incorporated into workplaces as a result of Covid-19 will be more enshrined in day-to-day working environments going forward … for some professional industries there will be an element of remote working embedded for good,” he added.
The report, which surveyed 1,000 professionals, found nearly 73 per cent of respondents enjoyed the flexible hours afforded by remote working and over a third (31 per cent) said working from home allowed for an increased focus on personal well-being.
More than six in 10 businesses surveyed pledged to respond positively to the change in employees’ expectations, Robert Walters said.
At the top of the employers’ list is reducing or reconfiguring office space (28 per cent), implementing enhanced mental health and well-being policies (38 per cent) and increasing investment in technology and tools (43 per cent) required for smooth remote working.
However, a quarter of companies said their “traditional senior leadership” will be a key barrier to allowing remote working in future.
“There are a number of hidden benefits to office working – such as providing structure, professional and personal support and social interaction,” said Mr Grundy.
“While there is no right answer … companies will really need to take stock of working practices this year to see what will best serve the needs of both employees and the business in the long term,” he added.
Almost 42 per cent of respondents said that compulsory remote working encouraged them to improve their business communication in 2020. Virtual presentations, over-the-phone discussions and video calls were key drivers in this.
More than 30 per cent of the professionals avoided sending emails as their primary form of workplace communication. They opted for other ways of communications including instant messenger (71 per cent), video calls (69 per cent) and telephone calls (62 per cent).