‘Spent 12 hours on flooded roads’: UAE's private sector employees appeal for remote work

Many employees were told to report to office during the unprecedented rain and storm of April 16-17

by

Waad Barakat

/

SM Ayaz Zakir

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Published: Wed 1 May 2024, 3:23 PM

Last updated: Wed 1 May 2024, 9:14 PM

The UAE’s record-breaking rainfall on April 16 affected many office-going residents, with some stranded for as many as 12 hours on flooded roads.

As the UAE braces for another bout of unstable weather on May 2 and 3, private sector workers are urging their employers to let then work from home.


Earlier today, the National Emergency, Crisis, and Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA) recommended that remote work be allowed for all private sector and government employees.

‘A harrowing experience’

Many private sector workers were told to commute to work during the unprecedented rain and storm of April 16-17. However, with unstable weather likely for the next two days, they do not want to take any chance this time.


For Sheikha M, an Emirati in Dubai, working from home under these conditions need not be a choice but a necessity.

"It should be mandatory, in my case I will call my work and ask for work from home as they're flexible. But I know a lot of people who don't have this option as their workplace asks them to come under any circumstances." Sheikha told Khaleej Times

Recalling the harrowing experience she encountered during the previous storm, leaving her stranded and having to leave her vehicle in the floods, she said: "I can't be in that situation again. It's crucial this time that the private sector collaborates with the employees, for their benefit. Working from home will not only be safe for the employees, but it will save the time they're going to waste commuting."

Learning from past experiences

Rony Banik, an account manager and expat from Bangladesh, recalls walking from his office in Business Bay to his home in Al Raffa in Bur Dubai during the last storm. It took him six hours to get home.

Rony
Rony

However, Rony says this time he would take the weather forecast more seriously and act upon it.

"Last time no one thought it would be that bad, maybe that's why they didn't inform us to work from home. But this time even if it isn't as intense as the last storm, I think they should still let us work from home, as it's more convenient," he said.

Supporting employee well-being

On April 16, the country witnessed the heaviest rainfall in 75 years, which resulted in flooding in some areas and some road closures. Prasin Dave, an Indian expat, recounts his grueling experience of spending over 12 hours on the road during the last storm.

Prasin emphasises the importance of providing work-from-home options for employees. “The work-from-home option must be provided to employees, especially in a country like UAE where most employees travel a bit from their residences to their offices.

Prasin
Prasin

"In today's age when all one needs is a laptop and an internet connection, a day or two of 'work from home' will not bring down a company's operations," he added.

Mohammed Hannan a resident of Al Nahda, who works as a marketing executive, said companies must prioritise employee safety by implementing work-from-home during unstable weather conditions.

“I am thankful that my boss allows employees to work from home during difficult weather. Being stranded on flooded roads risks our well-being but also productivity and increases stress levels. Remote work ensures our safety and enables us to fulfill our responsibilities more efficiently," said Mohammed.

Hannan further said that navigating through waterlogged streets during heavy rain is challenging and risky. “Every puddle becomes a hazard, making travel dangerous and time-consuming. It's not just about reaching our destination; it's about ensuring our safety on flooded roads and unpredictable conditions," he added.

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