Parents in the UAE have credited flexible hours and work-from-home options to helping them adjust to the new workweek, which sees their kids attending school on Fridays.
Residents woke up to the first-ever working Friday today as part of the new 4.5-day workweek that applies to government entities and schools in the UAE.
Since most private companies adopted the Saturday-Sunday weekend, some employees are still required to work full days on Friday. For working parents, this means their children will return from school shortly after noon, while they're at work.
The new change is prompting some parents to work from home or rely on domestic help.
Nora Eisa, a consultant at a research centre in Dubai, said her employer is offering her the flexibility to work from home so she can spend more time with her children.
“Working full days on Friday makes it difficult to look after my children who are now coming back from school at 12.30pm," she said. "Adopting flexible working hours or remote options on Fridays will help many parents like me align their schedule with schools."
For Safira Fazulbhoy, co-founder of Emaan International LLC, it was hard to adjust to the idea of working on Fridays and managing noon prayers. But a week after UAE officially began its new workweek, she said the new schedule is "falling in place now."
With only one day off on Sunday, Fazulbhoy said she is relying on domestic help to take care of her children during the 2.5-day weekend.
“I have help at home, but I am sure it would be difficult other working moms, especially those in the private sector,” she said.
But she noted that one of the main benefits is the new week will give her family more time to enjoy a full Sunday off, which initially never happened on Friday, as they would have to schedule plans after Friday prayers.
“We would only spend the holiday after the noon prayers, but now we have a full day off on Sunday,” she said.
Nikita Newalkar, a mother of two, said her transition to the new school week was easy. Her daughters Neha and Niti are Year 12 and Year 7 students, respectively, at GEMS Metropole School in Motor City.
She said the new school week will give her children time to pursue other activities.
“The younger one is preparing for an external music exam, so she gets more time to practice, while the older one gets more time to finish her academic work, leaving at least one day free on the weekend to do non-academic activities," Newalkar said.
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