A majority of working professionals in the MENA region are expecting remote working to increase after the COVID-19 pandemic has been brought under control. According to a survey conducted by jobs website Bayt.com and market research company YouGov, only 16 percent of MENA workers are looking forward to returning to workplaces to pre-pandemic levels.
As part of the survey, Bayt and YouGov interviewed 3,206 respondents from countries including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Iraq between August 18 and September 14.
Speaking about the results, Shreyansi Gupta, head of marketing at Bayt.com, underlined that the success of remote work has changed the operations of corporate work. She explained that a majority of employees are craving flexibility after working from home for months. It has significantly transformed the working culture in a company along with employee engagement.
After the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world, a large number of organisation globally transitioned to remote working with the aim of ensuring the health and wellbeing of employees.
As countries in the MENA continue to expand their vaccination campaign, COVID-19 cases have declined exponentially. With the COVID-19 situation coming in control, companies are increasingly asking their employees to return to office.
A survey conducted by US electronics company Poly earlier this month found about 78 percent of employees in the UAE said that traditional 9-to-5 work routine has become outdated and it has been replaced with working from home. About 67.6 percent of UAE employees have noted that they are more productive while working from home even as companies calling on employees to return to workplaces with decrease in the number of infections.
According to Bayt.com, about 53 percent of respondents in MENA stated that they are able to save commute time while working from home which is one of biggest benefits of remote working. Furthermore, 52 percent of them cited working in a comfortable work area as a benefit of remote work while 41 percent said they are able to spend more time with family and friends while working from home.
In addition, 41 percent of the respondents said they are able to save more money and 39 percent said remote work reduced absenteeism.
Among the challenges associated with remote work, about 41 percent of MENA-based employees cited frequent technical glitches, while 36 percent of them said separating work and personal life has been difficult while working remotely.
The survey found 34 percent of respondents cited frequent interruptions while 34 percent expressed concerns related to mental health issues due to isolation.
Zafar Shah, research director at YouGov, stated that shifting to remote work has brought new changes for the majority of employers and employees.
“Although the transition to remote work has been positively received by a large portion of the survey respondents, some have reported challenges. To mitigate this, managers should encourage intentional, effective and efficient communication at all levels of the organisation," Shah added.
The study further revealed that only 18 percent of employees in the MENA region work from home throughout the week while 55 percent of those surveyed are going to office on a daily basis.
15 percent of the respondents expressed their preference to entirely work from home while 53 percent of them are happy with a hybrid working model. About 31 percent of respondents preferred to return to their workplaces.
As per the Bayt.com survey, about 57 percent of the respondents in MENA noted that they have all resources needed to carry out remote work.