WKND Conversations: The art of work-life balance

The new year’s first edition the event addressed the need for greater equilibrium between workplace and home, and how organisations can help achieve it



(From left) Sayed Hussain, head of sales, Danube Properties; Yasmen Ahmed, cognitive behavioural therapist; Ebraheem Al Samadi, CEO, Al Samadi Group; Markus Sitz, founder and general manager, Vanitis International
(From left) Sayed Hussain, head of sales, Danube Properties; Yasmen Ahmed, cognitive behavioural therapist; Ebraheem Al Samadi, CEO, Al Samadi Group; Markus Sitz, founder and general manager, Vanitis International
by

Somya Mehta

Published: Thu 24 Feb 2022, 8:52 PM

With work from home becoming the new normal amidst the pandemic, one of the main realisations that came about was the need for greater work:life balance. The new UAE workweek that came into effect from January 1, 2022, was also in line with the country’s endeavour to facilitate better working conditions and reducing work-related stress. While the new regulations and greater awareness around the need for work:life balance seek to improve employee mental health, the success of these initiatives depends majorly on how much the employer and the organisation are willing to embrace the new lifestyle and subsequently, the ‘new normal’ at work.

The recent edition of wknd. conversations that took place on February 17 spotlighted the art of balance and how the pandemic has brought about a greater need for equilibrium in work and personal life. The event took place at Bayz by Danube Properties and gathered influencers and industry experts to discuss how the pandemic has altered our approach to work:life balance and whether there has been a realignment in organisational priorities.

The panel discussion, moderated by Sandi Saksena, started with a welcome note from the CEO of Danube Properties, Srinivasan, who spoke about how the pandemic has impacted real estate and buyer patterns. “If you talk about real estate and how the pandemic has impacted it, there are lots of changes in the way it is bought and sold. A key focus has been on health when it comes to living spaces. It’s important to create a zen space, when someone moves away from the office and has to live, work and play in the same place. Creating amenities that improve the general well-being of people helps achieve this,” said Srinivasan.

Srinivasan, CEO, Danube Properties
Srinivasan, CEO, Danube Properties

The first session of the afternoon discussed the steps employers are taking to support employees in this endeavour. The panel comprised Sayed Hussain, head of sales, Danube Properties, Markus Sitz, founder and general manager, Vanitis International, Yasmen Ahmed, cognitive behavioural therapist and wellbeing coach, Ebraheem Al Samadi, CEO, Al Samadi Group. The panel also addressed how burnout rates have increased over a period of time.

Hussain addressed the importance of creating a better work environment so people can transition back to work as smoothly as possible. “There’s a lot of panic and fear around working conditions during the pandemic. We tried to solve some of these problems and translated the core ethos into our buildings. During the pandemic, most people were working from home and there was a challenge of managing kids, work and the kitchen at the same time. Having a building structure and facilities that can help people manage their work in a better way is imperative,” said Hussain.

Sandi Saksena
Sandi Saksena

The first thing we need to integrate within our day , Ahmed added, is “to give ourselves a moment where we can pause and reflect rather than constantly being on the go,” she added. “We live in a society where there’s always a hustle mindset, which can be quite toxic to our mental health,” said Ahmed, adding that one needs to be mindful of where and how they spend their time.

To this, Sitz added, “It all comes down to our mindset. We need to have a mindset that seeks change. It can’t happen with a fixed mindset.” Sitz, along with his partner Sabrina Sitz and his children, relocated to Dubai from Austria amidst the pandemic. While relocating at a time when there are increased restrictions can be quite daunting, Sitz had an exciting and effortless journey. “The energy you feel here in this place, the energy that every human exudes, is something we have not experienced anywhere,” he cited as the main reason for his move to Dubai.

Ebraheem Al Samadi, who’s also the owner of Forever Rose Café in Dubai, further spotlighted the need for prioritising employee health as a business leader. “The first and foremost thing that the pandemic taught us was to also look after our health to protect ourselves from the virus. We encourage our staff to prioritise their health. If anyone wants to join the gym, we help arrange that. We also offer healthy food options as staff meals because the food intake suffers the most when we’re involved in the constant hustle and bustle of our daily lives,” he added.

The second session of the afternoon spotlighted ‘Rethinking the home’, exploring options to establish our home as the new and effective work space. The panel comprised Dubai-based digital creator Avantika Mohan who spoke about how the meaning of home has changed for us during the pandemic. “Life has not been easy but we’re privileged,” said Mohan. “The fact that I’m here today, I don’t ever take it for granted. I’m from a very small town in Dehradun in India. And from there to here, my graph has been up and I’m very grateful for that,” she added.

Avantika Mohan
Avantika Mohan

Mohan, who previously worked as a flight attendant, lost her job due to the pandemic, which forced her career to pivot in an unknown direction. “I now focus on providing people the digital way out. Many entrepreneurs and small businesses did not survive during the pandemic,” said Mohan, who’s also a travel and lifestyle influencer. “We give them that support by offering boutique, tailor-made social media and marketing plans for them because that’s the need of the hour,” she added. “Whoever survived during the pandemic, now wants to thrive and Dubai gives us all the chance to do that,” the influencer signed off.

somya@khaleejtimes.com

wknd. conversations is a monthly interactive platform where influential leaders from different industries come together for an informative session on a variety of subjects.


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