UAE tops GCC in remote work friendliness

Gulf companies expand work from home, study shows

by

Somshankar Bandyopadhyay

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The study found that the vast majority of office-based employees would switch jobs if it allowed them to work partly from home. — File photo
The study found that the vast majority of office-based employees would switch jobs if it allowed them to work partly from home. — File photo

Published: Wed 29 May 2024, 4:56 PM

Last updated: Sun 2 Jun 2024, 8:01 PM

Among the six GCC countries, the UAE has emerged as the most remote-friendly country, a study showed.

One-fifth of professionals in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) enjoy some form of remote or hybrid work arrangement in their companies, according to the latest research by GulfTalent, a leading online recruitment firm.


GulfTalent’s study was based on a survey of 4,000 professionals and 1,000 managers based in the region. It found that the most common format of remote work is 2 days per week from home and 3 days at the workplace.

Start-up firms and multinational corporations lead in remote work, in contrast with large local firms and government entities which have the lowest rate. Among industries, IT and Advertising most prominently embrace remote work, while Construction and Manufacturing do so the least, mainly due to the nature of their work.


Among companies currently practising hybrid work, one-third plan to expand their hybrid arrangements further, while 13 per cent plan to reduce or potentially eliminate remote work altogether.

GulfTalent’s study enquired about employer motivations when allowing or disallowing remote work. Among companies that practice remote work, the most common reasons given were improved productivity, longer working hours, higher staff retention, and cost savings through reduced rental space.

On the other hands, surveyed companies that did not allow remote work cited its negative impact on collaboration, productivity and team bonding, as well as data confidentiality risks. Some also reported that the job required physical contact and was impossible to perform remotely.

Impact on productivity

The survey found that remote work can boost productivity when employees have their own quiet work space at home, live more than an hour away from the office, and their work is mainly individual in nature, requiring limited collaboration. On the other hand, working remotely may hurt productivity when employees live in shared rooms or have small children at home.

Hybrid workers with a separate workspace at home reported a net 36 per cent increase in productivity when working at home. In contrast, employees sharing a room with noisy roommates experienced a net 48 per cent drop in productivity at home.

Work-life balance

According to the survey results, hybrid workers report much higher satisfaction with their work-life balance, compared to their office-based peers. This is strongest among employees with long commute times to work.

Based on the survey findings, female employees are almost twice as likely to work from home as their male counterparts.

The study found that the vast majority of office-based employees would switch jobs if it allowed them to work partly from home. This includes 70 per cent who are ready to switch to a hybrid job without any pay increase, and a further nine per cent who would make the jump even if it involved a pay cut. The study concludes that GCC companies can use hybrid arrangements to improve staff retention while moderating the pressure for salary increases.



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