The Research and Development Department at INDEX Holding Group, a leading Emirati national company specialized in events industry, healthcare, trade, and investment, has conducted a study on the effectiveness of remote working system in companies and its impact on productivity in light of the outbreak of COVID-19, which has forcedmillions of companies around the world to work remotely in an attempt to limit the spread of this virus.
Commenting on this study, Dr. Abdul Salam Al Madani, Chairman of INDEX Holding stated that the results of this study demonstrated the merit of the United Arab Emirates and the efficiency of the country’s infrastructure in various fields, whether communications, technology, etc., and also showed the extent of the flexibility that companies have in adapting to various environments in order to ensure the continuity of work under any circumstances.
He added: “Dubai has always been a flagship and leading country in all areas, following the guidance of H. H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister, and ruler of Dubai. We will always remain in the lead as we follow his wise guidance and directives. Now, we are preparing for the next stage and we continue our work on the digital infrastructure, applications, and services,provided by Smart Dubai to ensure the continuityof work as it is to normal lifein various public and private sectors. All I can say that these smart applications and solutions had contributed significantly in the quick transition towards working remotely and maintain the required productivity”.
It is worth mentioning that the infrastructure, solutions, smart applications and services that Dubai providesgreatly contributed in the quick adaptation of working remotely, Furthermore, it enabled the various sectors to sustain its work easily and as close to business as usual.This demonstrates the efficiency of decades of work and effective strategies to establishdistinguished infrastructure and smart services in a city that doesn’t know the impossible.
2020 has been a year of transformation. With technology making quantum leaps in terms of development in communication systems and cloud-based servers in the past decade, we now have a work force which is agile and highly adaptable. The disruptive nature of COVID- 19 has impacted almost all aspects of our lives right from the manner we conduct our business to the manner we conduct ourselves socially.
The global pandemic which has forced us to maintain social distance and avoid travelling has changed the operation of many business in a fundamental way. From changes comes challenges and fromchallenges comes innovation as most countries around the world including UAE have adapted to the new norms of conducting business.
Before the pandemic,UAE had a modest participation in remote work with 10% percent of the country’s workforce reported to working from home one to two days per week, as opposed to a global average of 62% according to IWG workspace survey
According to the study by International Workplace Group (IWG) – 2018, 91% of UAE companies surveyed, identified business growth as a major benefit of having employees work remotely, while 97% of UAE companies said it improved competitiveness. Additionally, 84% in the UAE said that flexible working hours helps retain top talent, while 44% said it improves job satisfactions.
In March 2020, UAE government instructed the employees from private and public sectors to practice remote working. Since the announcement, organizations across UAE have been quick to adapt to the new norm and rolled out work from home strategies to all their employee. According to Dubai Future Foundation,those strategies may stay in place in future because they met employers’ expectations for business continuity, and allowed employees to be productive and flexible.
Effectiveness of Remote Working
A high number of global companies responded positively in terms of overall efficiency and productivity generated from remote working initiatives. Furthermore, remote working allows companies to curtail their overheads as companies would not have to pay for employee’s space and supplies.
The study reveals that employees working from home spend close to 5% more time dedicated to their core work and a decrease of 4.7% in time spent on communication as compared to working from office. Annually, this results in 58 more hours spent on core work and 256 fewer hours spent on communication.
It is noted that employees who work from home limit their communication to productive conversation around dealing with tasks in hand which, results in higher effectiveness of their virtual meetings.
Effective Communication- Virtual Meetings
Employees and employers around the world have embraced shorter and effective mode of online meetings. Through communication software such as “MS Teams”, team members update each other on tasks on regular basis, therefore making their weekly/daily meetings more efficient. This is reflected on the time spent on communication system.
The remote meeting trend has been very popular in UAE with companies such as ADNOC logging more than 30 Mil minutes in video and audio meeting over the 2 months during COVID 19 outbreak. According to an article in The National, ADNOC’s 50,000 employees logged 1.2 million one-to-one and group calls and exchanged more than 10 million instant messages.
Dubai Culture and Arts authorities have held 1,912 video conferences for a total of 715 hours between March and April of this year. Apart from this, the organization also accomplished more than 4,100 remote work sessions during the same period.
The salient advantages of remote meetings are as follows: Location flexibility,Ease of sharing documents, Reduced ambiguity, receive undivided attention, and Save travel time and cost.
According to Dubai Future Foundation, working remotely may become an essential part of work post COVID 19. Major technology companies such as Facebook and Twitter have already told some of their employees to work from home permanently. In an internal memo, Google said that they are investing more into work-from-home set-up to ensure the productivity of their employees.
Though work from home may be more evident in sectors such as Technology, the remote working culture will prevail in other industries as it reduces cost, increases efficiency, enhances the well-being of employees and decreases company’s carbon footprint.