Coronavirus: Third of Gulf firms plan to let staff work from home, survey shows

More than half said they had "no plans yet" to allow remote working, poll of GCC executives and managers finds

Female financial advisor working on laptop in home. Getty Images

More than a third of companies in the Gulf said they will let their staff work from home - but half have no plans to do so yet, a survey found.

The poll by recruitment firm Gulf Talent asked more than 1,600 executives, managers and HR departments in the Gulf about flexible working, as coronavirus cases grow.

It found 35 per cent were preparing to work remotely, 54 per cent had "no plans yet" and 11 per cent said "definitely not".

School closures announced on Tuesday will mean children will be taught remotely from home later this month.

Many parents are looking at how they will manage childcare arrangements in the coming weeks, whether taking time off or working from home.

“Most companies have never attempted this and are not prepared for it and it is going to be a huge technical and organisational challenge for many," a spokesman for Gulf Talent said.

Of the companies that would let staff work from home, 45 per cent said it would apply to their entire workforce.

Faced with a decline in business resulting from the outbreak, 12 per cent of companies said they were prepared to reduce costs through unpaid leave and staff redundancies.

“Many companies indicated they have only recently started considering remote work, following the coronavirus outbreak,” a Gulf Talent analyst said.

“With new developments every day highlighting the seriousness of the situation, more will likely start considering this.”

“Our offices in China and Korea are already closed and staff are working from home,” said the HR manager of a company who took part in the online survey.

“We are monitoring the situation in the Gulf in case the same measures become necessary here.”

Of those quizzed, 54 per cent were from the local private sector, while 38 per cent came from multinational firms and eight per cent represented government-owned companies.