UAE jobs: Late-night work calls leave employees exhausted; here's what firms should do

Millennials and the Gen Z are not just working for a pay cheque; they're looking for meaning and flexibility — and they're about to make it the new norm

By Roujin Ghamsari

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Published: Sat 25 May 2024, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Thu 30 May 2024, 11:08 AM

Question: Some countries have introduced laws giving workers the right to ignore unreasonable calls and messages from their bosses outside of work hours without penalty, with potential fines for employers that breach the rule. How should UAE-based employers react to this?

Answer: In the UAE, we've got a front-row seat to the global stage, with a 24/7 hustle that dances to the beat of international markets. Operating in different time zones demands a nuanced approach to work hours. It’s not about clocking marathon hours, but it does require a flexible schedule that syncs with the global rhythm.

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On one hand, I’d like to welcome this new legislation as it is a positive step towards better work-life balance. When it comes to this, Covid-19 has given us a serious nudge towards valuing downtime just as much as desk time. We’ve witnessed that when team members disconnect, they return to work rejuvenated, leading to higher levels of productivity and efficiency. Conversely, when they’re constantly exhausted, despite their best intentions, they struggle to fully commit — downtime is as crucial as uptime!

We know that initiatives that enable work-life balance are catalysts for boosting productivity, minimising turnover, and enhancing the mental and physical well-being of employees. We also know that millennials and Gen Z are poised to dominate the workforce, and their fresh take on a balanced life is steering corporate culture towards a more sustainable pace.

They're not just working for a pay cheque; they're looking for meaning and flexibility — and they're about to make it the new norm. These digital natives with their 'work to live, not live to work' mantra are set to turn the traditional office vibe on its head.

Reality check

However, I'm an advocate of the 'carrot' approach rather than the 'stick'. Resorting to punitive measures and legislative changes won't necessarily result in a lasting mindset shift.

Instead, I advocate for a focus on productivity while affording employees the freedom to achieve objectives within defined parameters.

By empowering employees to make decisions about how and when to accomplish tasks, we foster a culture of responsibility and autonomy. In the buzzing hub of the UAE, where business never sleeps and the world’s your neighbour, the nine-to-five rule just doesn't cut it. We're juggling calls with New York at dawn and emails to Singapore by starlight. It's all about that smart flex—working across time zones without letting it stretch into crazy-o'clock territory. So, while we're all for bending the workday to fit the global beat, it's not about burning the midnight oil. Just a little shuffle in the daily groove to keep the global wheels spinning!

Roujin Ghamsari is an accomplished HR practitioner and fellow of the CIPD, a professional body for HR and people development. Named among the 'Most Influential HR Practitioners 2023', she excels at collaborating with C-Suite leadership to craft and implement robust people plans, enabling organisations to deliver their strategic objectives.


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