UAE: Why more companies are adopting 3-day weekend policy

Firms are also adopting a hybrid model



by

Waheed Abbas

Published: Tue 9 Aug 2022, 11:38 AM

Last updated: Tue 9 Aug 2022, 10:31 PM

More companies in the UAE have adopted a four-day workweek as they believe that a 5-day week and 9 to 5 module is an outdated concept from the 50s that leads to demotivation, failure and eventually burnout of employees.

In addition to a four-day workweek, companies are adopting a hybrid model and allowing their workers to work from home as well.

“It is about time the work-life balance becomes more than just a slogan that companies put on a brochure. The 5-day week, 9 to 5 module is an outdated concept from the 50s before we possessed the technologies that connect us so easily. Now with a wide choice of interactive platforms and software as well as the means to instantly message and communicate with people around the world, there is no longer a need to keep doing what we’ve been doing,” says Ruwaida Abela, founder and managing director of JRN Consultancy, a luxury hospitality and lifestyle consultancy specialising in PR, communications, and crisis management.

JRN Consultancy offers its employees a four-day workweek from Monday to Thursday. Employees work from home on Thursdays.

Pop Communications and Active DMC also have a 3-day weekend policy for the staff. In addition, there are a number of companies – mostly in the communications sector – that have four-and-a-half day work policies in place for the staff.

Abela noted that the productivity of the staff is much higher with the shorter workweek.

Ruwaida Abela
Ruwaida Abela

“We are faced with so much more stress nowadays and the mental well-being of employees needs to be considered. People need to reset and understand that they work to live not live to work and that time spent enjoying life will make them happier and so more productive and it will help employers retain the talent,” she said.

Abela added that studies have shown that people work best when they have control over their schedules.

Sarah Curtis, the co-founder at POP Communications, says the firm has implemented a ‘No Pressure Fridays’ policy, under which staff can take off or have the time to focus on a certain item which has resulted in an increase in efficiency and productivity due to the flexible approach.

She said this approach can be challenging at times due to the firm’s client-servicing nature. “The desire to have Friday off yet still meets requirements and could result in extended hours on other days. Our flexible, no-pressure approach offers options best suited for each team member.”

Sarah Curtis
Sarah Curtis

Curtis added that the team has embraced this change very well and it further encouraged and developed the team’s time-management skills.

Sawsan Ghanem, managing partner for digital, marketing and communications at Active DMC, earlier said that a shorter week does have a direct impact on productivity, with a better work-life balance.

Long hours are counterproductive

Interestingly, POP Communications has a hybrid work policy in place since the pandemic where employees mostly work from home.

“We gather at least once a week as a team to align but generally, our team works from home and manages their time to meet operational requirements,” added Curtis.

JRN Consultancy founder Abela strongly believes that long working hours/days are counterproductive, and they just encourage employees to pile and drag on their workload, as there’s no motivation or reward for getting something done faster.

“Employers shouldn’t wait, they should act now by initiating changes to the 9-to-5 structure because the best talent will leave to where they feel valued, appreciated, and cared for. They will want to work with companies that improve their lives and wellbeing,” she added.

Abela said they have no plan to roll back four-day workweek policy because she believes “this is the future.”

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