Dubai's government has approved plans to allow its employees to work remotely on a full-time basis.
Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, said it was vital the country kept pace with the needs of the "jobs of the future".
Announcing the strategy, Sheikh Hamdan said the system would allow staff to work remotely on a permanent, temporary or part-time basis. The Covid-19 pandemic has raised new questions about the rise of a new work-life era.
The surge in coronavirus infections around the world forced millions of people to swap offices for makeshift work stations in their homes.
The successful integration of online offices has led to calls for radical changes to be made to how we work.
"We have approved a system for remote working in the Dubai government, in line with the requirements of jobs of the future," said Sheikh Hamdan.
"The system provides employees with several options to work remotely on a permanent, temporary or part-time basis. Adopting remote work systems has played a major role in ensuring business continuity during the pandemic.
"It has offered employees the flexibility to be creative and innovative. We are entering a new phase marked by new tools and innovative approaches to government work.
"We are committed to ensure Dubai continues to be at the forefront of global improvements in government work systems. Our government does not wait for the future.
We constantly work to find proactive solutions for future challenges and enhance our readiness to take advantage of new opportunities. Providing the right tools and work conditions are key to our ability to achieve our objectives."
Employees in roles that can be performed from outside the office will have the option to fully work remotely, while those that need to work from the office some of the time can work remotely on a partial basis. Remote working days for employees can be decided by each department.
The new protocols specify that only those employees whose productivity will not be affected by working offsite will be eligible to work remotely.
The performance of employees will be regularly monitored and assessed.
The decision also allows the director general of each department to permit employees to work remotely from abroad in case they are stranded overseas due to a crisis situations.
Employees eligible for remote work will remain eligible for bonuses, allowances and benefits in with line with government regulations.
Abdulla Ali bin Zayed Al Falasi, director general of Dubai Government Human Resources Department, said the move will boost talent retention and support the government’s ability to align itself with emerging market trends.
In addition to social and economic benefits, Mr Al Falasi said remote working helps to reduce operational costs, cut congestion on the emirtae's roads and increase productivity.
A Dubai conference heard earlier this week that the pandemic had led to a shift towards a more flexible style of working.
According to the ‘Future of Work’ report by Smart Dubai, discussed at Gitex Technology Week, the global health crisis had normalised remote working.
“In 2020, almost overnight, remote work became the norm,” the report said.
“As the number of infected individuals was rising around the world, governments and businesses detached from conventions of traditional work routines and embraced new business models.
“Currently being used as a lifeline for many businesses, remote working is expected to be highly adopted, even beyond the pandemic.”
According to a study by Global Workplace Analytics, a research firm on employment trends, remote workers will make up as much as 50 per cent of the entire workforce by the end of the year.