Employers unready to meet demand for flexible working in UAE, claims report

flexible workingAccording to a new survey from YouGov and Citrix, office workers in the United Arab Emirates are almost universally aware of the benefits of flexible working and increasingly demand it from their employers. Yet under a quarter of organisations ‘encourage and enable’ employees to work away from their main place of work routinely.  The report claims that 94 percent of the 800 UAE office workers who took part in the study say they would feel less stressed, be more productive and achieve better balance between work and family responsibilities if they were given the freedom to work flexibly outside of the office. As a result, demand for flexible working has increased by 20 per cent since an equivalent report in 2013, with many UAE workers also indicating that the ability to work from anywhere would significantly increase their job satisfaction. In contrast, only 23 percent of the businesses surveyed fully ‘encourage and enable’ employees to work from anywhere, using any device. 

In addition, a third (34 percent) of UAE organisations believe that employees may become less productive when outside an office environment, while a similar number (33 percent) believe that a lack of security controls for devices prevents them adopting flexible working practices.

The research also revealed that:

  • 17 percent of organisations do not currently enable employees to work outside of the office at all – or use any personal devices; a further 8 per cent only allow it in special circumstances
  • Only 30 percent of UAE businesses are examining the impact of mobility on productivity, 29 percent are examining the impact on employee morale, whilst 20 per cent have not taken steps to understand the potential impact of mobility on their business

The authors of the report claim their findings on attitudes to flexible working in the UAE reflect the increasing need to transform the way people and organisations do business – compounded by the profound impact of consumerisation. They go on to say that ‘by providing the technology to enable full productivity beyond the constraints of physical desks, offices and traditional working hours, businesses can empower employees to work smarter wherever they may be – and most importantly, attract and retain the best talent in a highly competitive labour market’.

“These latest results demonstrate a slow but clear cultural shift in the attitude and adoption of mobile working technologies – employee demand is strong, but businesses still have some progress to make in meeting that demand,” said Johnny Karam, Regional Vice President, Middle East and Africa, Citrix. “As technology has become a seamless part of people’s work and personal lives, Citrix has provided desktop, mobile, app and data services to enable people to work better. Mobility in the workplace has become both an expectation and necessity very quickly – any business that does not address this opportunity could soon be at a significant disadvantage.”