3-day weekend in UAE: Some employees have enjoyed 26 more days off this year

It is better to work one extra hour daily and get three days off a week, says resident



by

Waheed Abbas

Published: Wed 8 Jun 2022, 3:13 PM

Last updated: Thu 9 Jun 2022, 11:53 AM

Lebanese expat Carine El Natour, who works as a communications executive at a Dubai firm, has enjoyed 26 more days off this year compared to the same period last year. This is because her firm switched to a 3-day weekend as it shortened the workweek to four days.

Starting January 2022, the UAE government announced four-and-a-half-day work from Monday till Friday mid-day. Many organisations in the UAE also switched their work week in line with the public sector. While a few opted for a four-day work week in line with the Sharjah government.

“With a four-day work week, it feels like I worked lesser hours per week, but we need to learn to manage our time accordingly, and we can work the same amount of work that we do in five days. But then you enjoy a long weekend which everyone would love to have. The four-day week also gives much more work-life balance,” said Natour.

“It’s not very hectic. Work one hour extra per day, and we don’t even notice it. It’s better to work one extra hour per day than work an extra day per week. Because it gives me an extra time to pursue my hobbies and unwind myself,” she added.

Employees in the UAE believe they have become more productive and relaxed and enjoy better work-life balance after implementing four and four-and-a-half day workweek, while employers noted that staff’s attendance has improved since the beginning of this year.

Sawsan Ghanem, joint managing director, Active DMC.
Sawsan Ghanem, joint managing director, Active DMC.

Sawsan Ghanem, joint managing director, Active DMC, said there were challenges initially when they introduced a four-day week in September 2021 as the team had to change their approach to work because they were required to plan more and think more about things in detail.

“The team’s feedback is great, and they feel refreshed and rejuvenated when they do come back to the office on Mondays. Employees feel like they’re switched off from work and disconnected. It is a mental thing, and by reducing one day, the whole mindset has changed. That, in turn, makes them more productive,” she said.

Abigail Xavier.
Abigail Xavier.

Abigail Xavier, who works for a financial technology company, said her productivity has improved with the change in work from five to four-and-a-half.

“My overall productivity has increased because I am under less stress during the week. I don’t feel like I have any personal pending tasks that are coming in the way of my work. I feel well-rested and more motivated to get things done knowing that I’ve lesser time so I’m able to wrap things up in time,” said Xavier, a Pakistani national.

Carlo Markarian, a Dubai resident from Lebanon, says it was unusual in the beginning but now it feels great. “On Fridays, I do some light tasks because, in Dubai, time goes twice as fast as anywhere else in the world for some reason. Four-and-a-half days feel like four days basically. We try to finish our tasks before the weekend.”

To make the most of the time, Markarian and his colleagues go to the beach on Fridays or do some errands.

Ola Lind, CEO FTFT Capital Investments.
Ola Lind, CEO FTFT Capital Investments.

Ola Lind, CEO FTFT Capital Investments, said a four-and-a-half day week makes employees more relaxed and more balance in work and home life.

“We have a better work attendance and people feel that it’s a more balanced lifestyle and they produce better results at work than before when it was five day week,” he added.

Ali AlSuwaidi, director-general of Ajman Free Zone, said a four-day work week is a game-changer in terms of health benefits, increased productivity, and economic payoff.

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“Covid-19 has demonstrated that being more flexible in how and where people work is easier and acceptable. The new shift is leading to happier and more committed employees, who are less likely to be stressed or take sick leave as they have plenty of time to rest and recover. As a result, they return to work feeling energised and ready to tackle new challenges. It has been observed that when people are less stressed, they are more intuitive and give in their 100 per cent to work,” he said.

Mayank Patel, country head, Adecco Middle East
Mayank Patel, country head, Adecco Middle East

Mayank Patel, country head, Adecco Middle East, said employees tend to be more productive during the day as they are aware the week is short and major tasks, and strategic goals need to be completed.

A shorter work week benefits certain sectors such as customer service, hospitality, retail, eCommerce, delivery services, tourism, banking and financial services.

“There is a demand for part-time and contract staff for long weekends and seasonal hirings which leads to increased job opportunities for youth. More companies will jump on board with four and half day workweek as it could boost overall employment of flexibility-loving Millennials and Generation Z employees,” he added.


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