Covid-19 in UAE: Only 13% of workers want to return to office post-vaccine

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Dubai - The past year has solidified a change in how employees work, and their expectations for a more hybrid model moving forward.



By Issac John

Published: Sun 23 May 2021, 5:04 PM

Last updated: Sun 23 May 2021, 5:11 PM

Only 13 per cent of UAE employees plan to permanently return to company facilities full-time post-vaccine as most businesses reported that they managed to meet or surpass their growth target during the pandemic-ravaged 2020, according to a new survey.

The study by Oracle NetSuite shows that 62 per cent of businesses which took part in the survey achieved their growth goal, albeit down 28 per cent from a similar report conducted prior to the pandemic.

“The state of growth” observed that despite these challenges, over half (53 per cent) of UAE respondents are expecting annual revenue growth in 2021, while 16 per cent expect to remain flat.

The past year has solidified a change in how employees work, and their expectations for a more hybrid model moving forward.

While only 13 per cent of UAE employees plan to permanently return to company facilities full-time, older workers (aged over 55) showed a greater willingness to return to the office (42 per cent). Over a third (38 per cent) would like permanent flexibility in working hours.

However, this doesn’t signify a complete shift to remote working in the future. Some 54 per cent of UAE respondents expect to work remotely more than half the time post-pandemic, compared to 52 per cent that already did so prior to the pandemic, the study said.

Remote working has had little impact on the surveyed organisations’ ability to collaborate and problem-solve, with 47 per cent saying it is unchanged and a further 15 per cent of respondents saying that remote working has improved their capabilities.

According to the study, remote workers have adapted – although face-to-face collaboration ranks highest (41 per cent) for things people miss about being in the workplace, a further 59 per cent of UAE respondents do not miss in-person collaboration with colleagues, suggesting that many have found a rhythm with remote working patterns.

The majority of UAE businesses are not overwhelmed by the pandemic – just 25 per cent cited Covid-19 as the greatest external business threat they face, the same as the threat from existing competitors (25 per cent), but behind new tariffs increasing costs (27 per cent).

“Strong financial performances could be attributed to organisations’ ability to react – 67 per cent of UAE respondents rated their company above average for adjusting business priorities due to Covid-19 while 82 per cent said they had to change the way they communicate with customers over the past 12 months, and 77 per cent said the amount they sell online, as well as the number of channels they sell through (69 per cent), also increased.

“It is evident in our findings that many UAE businesses have rallied to adapt during the pandemic to meet their growth objectives,” said Hossam Refaat, senior sales Director, Middle East Africa, Oracle NetSuite.

“Businesses know there are challenges ahead – ever-changing circumstances and accommodating employees’ preferences to how and where they work – but it will be the organisations that evolve quickly and efficiently that will return to growth,” said Refaat.

issacjohn@khaleejtimes.com


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