Employees in UAE divided over long-term home working and return to office, survey finds

The majority of workers favour a 'hybrid' model that allows them to balance both

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Working from home has made UAE workers more productive and happier, according to new research.

The majority of workers favour a "hybrid" model that allows them to either work from home or in the office, according to Life and Work Beyond 2020, a study commissioned by global cloud computing company Avaya.

In the early days of the pandemic, widespread stay-home measures were introduced in a bid to curb the spread of the virus. It also led to people working from home, a trend that has remained despite restrictions being eased last year.

The result is working from home has become the norm for many, with mixed results on the impact of productivity and people's general wellbeing.

A key requirement for business success in 2021 and beyond will be building a hybrid model of work

The study, carried out by by research firm Davies Hickman Partners, was based on 10,000 interviews in 11 countries, including 517 respondents from the UAE.

The survey found that 51 per cent of those surveyed in the Emirates felt happier over the past year as a result of working from home.

People in the UAE are particularly keen on work-from-anywhere models, with 64 per cent saying the option of being able to work from home or the office contributes to their happiness.

More than half (51 per cent) of workers said returning to the office full-time would be their biggest worry, while 44 per cent identified being replaced by automation as a major concern.

On the flip side, 40 per cent of UAE employees said they were concerned about having to work from home for the foreseeable future.

"By understanding employees' concerns about the workplace, both now and in the future, business leaders and government organisations can determine the best routes forward," said Nidal Abou-Ltaif, president, international, at Avaya.

"The key finding, however, is that 40 per cent of UAE employees actually worry about working from home forever, meaning that a key requirement for business success in 2021 and beyond will be building a hybrid model of work that suits the needs of every employee."

Nearly two thirds (64 per cent) of UAE workers have the technology necessary to work from anywhere, the study found.

Many employees struggle with creating a suitable working environment at home, with 47 per cent expressing a desire for a larger working space, and 33 per cent saying that working from home was not appropriate for family life.

Almost a third (30 per cent) said they did not believe that their employers trusted them to work from anywhere, and 37 per cent said that they did not believe their employer put an emphasis on their well-being.

The research is based on interviews with employees in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, India, US, Canada, Austria, France, Germany and Switzerland. The research assessed how our values, relationships with businesses and working lives are changing.

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