'Happy employees' the new buzzword in UAE offices

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Happy employees the new buzzword in UAE offices

Dubai - Employers are innovating their work space to improve the well-being of staff.

By Saman Haziq

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Published: Sat 8 Dec 2018, 9:41 PM

Whether that be a 'fireman's pole' connecting different levels in the office or 'skateboarding' in the workplace, offices in Dubai are getting inspired by the 'happy employee' policy.
The policy is being encouraged by the Dubai Government and employers are now taking the unconventional approach to redesigning workplaces inspired by the unorthodox work environments of Google, Apple or Facebook.
To actively engage their employees and to show 'we care', a growing trend is observed among the UAE employers that are innovating their policies and work space to improve the happiness, productivity and well-being of their workforce.
Apart from a number of government organisations, now the private sector firms are also joining the bandwagon, believing that breaking out of the cubicle - and even away from the desk altogether - can be a boon for creativity and productivity.
Fine Hygienic Holding recently chose to upgrade its Dubai offices, and the group's new workspace across two floors - located in Dubai's Jebel Ali Free Zone - employs an open-plan layout that gives the office a spacious and airy ambience while encouraging employees to more readily interact and collaborate throughout their workday.
"From bright colours, ample sunlight, rocking chairs, swings, skateboard ramp and in-office running track for employees to stay upbeat and active, to a meditation room and a solution room for those who need more stillness and reflection time, we brought in everything to help our employees feel the energy and love their workspace. This is because we spend more time in office than at home. So why not make it fun. The idea is to make them think out of the box and I want my people to get innovative," said James Michael Lafferty, CEO of Fine Hygienic Holding.
The firm is now a few weeks away from opening a corporate gym for its employees.
Based on its extensive research, workplace space analysis and an employee survey, Canon Middle East unveiled Canon's Space360 in April 2018, which is a one-of-a-kind initiative that is a basis for how the workspace is changing in the future.
Anurag Agrawal, managing director, Canon Middle East, said: "When planning Canon Space360, the priority was to put Canon employees first because they are the talent and minds that drive innovation; and to achieve this objective, the workplace has to reflect the needs of today's working environment."
Canon's Space360 is a fully functional, innovation-led space that is divided into three sections: Innovation, Knowledge and Community, with each having specific functional features and equipped with the latest technology to enable communication, messaging and engagement via various media. "After opening of Canon Space360, we are observing a change in mindsets and a more optimistic and productive atmosphere in the office. And the positive, happy energy is contagious," Agrawal added.
Simone Beretta, head of human resources, Robert Bosch Middle East, said: "At Bosch, we firmly believe in promoting a work-life balance, which is why we have instituted several initiatives, such as flexible working hours and work-from-home options. Employees have the freedom to start work at any time between 7am and 10am to accommodate any family obligations that they may have.
"We have also improved our maternity leave policy, doubling the allowance mandated under the UAE law, providing them with 14 weeks of maternity leave, and flexible working hours for up to a year post-partum. New mothers at Bosch can also opt for up to three months of unpaid leave."
The company also ensures its associates are able to take part in different sport activities with colleagues, be it football, badminton, table tennis, jogging, or any other. In addition, the company regularly hosts talks and sessions on various medical topics ranging from diabetes to breast cancer and mindfulness, amongst others.
Interior designer Veena Kanchan said she has seen a greater demand in such employee-friendly office setups, and her latest ventures on these lines has been Fine Hygienic Holding as well as Rove Hotels. 
"The idea of workplace has changed from the past couple of years. Market is maturing and employers are looking outwards to the world to take inspiration from better practices and trends. The human connection is being given much more importance than before," added Veena.

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