Why the newly announced UAE work week is an opportunity for work-life balance

Will we finally strike balance?

By Jyotika Aggarwal

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Published: Fri 17 Dec 2021, 4:25 AM

Last updated: Fri 17 Dec 2021, 4:31 AM

2022 already promises to be a better year. With the announcement of the two-and-a-half-day weekend, spirits are high and everyone is excited. It’s almost like a long weekend every weekend. With the increased working hours in the last two years due to the convenience of work from home, this step will be a harbinger of work:life balance. Such steps are obviously positive for the wellbeing of employees as well as the companies. Some highly productive countries in the world like Germany, Norway and the Netherlands are known to have a shorter workweek. Employees are likely to be more focused, meticulous and productive when they know they have enough time to de-stress over the weekend. In the last few decades, multiple researches have been done on employee productivity. Most of them have concluded that the four-day workweek made employees more efficient. Working continuously for longer hours everyday has shown to reduce hourly productivity due to greater fatigue, reduced job satisfaction and lowered motivation.

However, this is still a new change; the way employees and their schedules have functioned till now, have been based on a five- or six-day workweek. Hence, people and companies will still take some time to adapt to the new change. It is critical for companies to make sure that their shorter working week doesn’t become a “compressed” week. A compressed week attempts to put a full 40-hour workweek into four days. Expecting employees to work 10-11 hours each day can impact employee productivity and health negatively. In fact, in such a case, the reduced workweek will have a counter-productive effect. The plan should not lead to employee burnout. The aim should be to work smart rather than work longer.

This new change gives employees a chance to grow in other areas of their life, spend more time with their families as well as indulge in “me” time.

When employees feel rejuvenated from their weekends, they are likely to optimise their skills and show improvement in their work life. A shorter workweek will also reduce the stress on employees, meaning lesser turnover and absenteeism. This largely increases job satisfaction, thus creating a positive cycle of work:life balance.

In terms of mental health of individuals, this is a big step in the right direction. It may possibly mean lesser anxiety and stress for all. This also allows people to pursue healthier relationships and friendships, improving their social life and creating valuable connections. Individuals are likely to have more time to inculcate newer skills, develop hobbies, nurture creativity, giving life greater meaning and purpose.

This is a great opportunity for families to find an activity that brings them together. There will now be more time to talk, communicate and be healthily involved in each other’s lives. Working parents will now be able to focus better on their children and understand in detail about their thoughts, dreams and cognitions. Till now, many people did not have the time to reflect on their lives, learn from their past and hone their true authentic selves. Nor did they have the mental capacity to work on their emotional vulnerabilities due to working exhaustively and then focusing any remaining time to chores and basic needs of connection. With this extra time, it would greatly benefit people if they indulged in self-help books, or even therapy. Gaining insight into our wants, needs, values and comprehending our shortcoming and actions, can improve our lives tremendously, thus leading us to a life full of hope, contentment and happiness.


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