Author: Katerina Manou, Regus Regional Vice President
Flexible working has been on the rise in the UAE, with companies increasingly offering remote working and flexi-time as part of the employment package in order to attract or retain talent. Furthermore, the UAE government introduced legislation designed to support flexibility in the labour market, by allowing professionals to work part-time or remotely.
The latest Global Workspace Survey from IWG discovered that flexible working is not just considered a perk for the perfect role, but a must-have when it comes to taking a new job offer.
When employees were asked to prioritise their preferences when it comes to workplace perks, 80% said that when faced with two similar employment offers, they would turn down the one that didn’t offer flexible working.
In addition, 54% said that having a choice of work location was more important to them than an increased holiday allowance, suggesting that workers will deal with the daily grind, as long as they know they’ll have a little flexibility about where they can open their laptops.
The development of new technologies has long meant that many of us should be able to work anytime, anywhere. The challenge for businesses has been how to make the most of these new opportunities.
Many have been quick to realise the benefits of flexible working, which not only allows employees to work in huge numbers of locations around the world, but also improves productivity, job satisfaction, talent retention and business performance. Indeed, many employees now consider it to be the “new normal” when looking for the next step in their careers – the demand for flexible working is increasing year on year and is showing no signs of slowing.
Knowledge-based industries such as consultancy and ICT businesses in particular have embraced their ‘location agnostic’ structures to make remote working a possibility, as many business leaders have noticed that being flexible can play a critical role in broadening their access to the top talent pools, and employees confirm that it makes a difference to their enjoyment of their role.
The importance of being able to choose your work location was also cited in the study as one of the most important things prospective employees now look for: 70% of respondents felt that having a choice of work environment is a key factor when evaluating new career opportunities.
Once considered the preserve of parents with young children, flexible working has seen its popularity boom among employees at all stages in their careers, as expats choose to remain in the UAE for longer periods of time, building long-term careers and committing to companies that can offer them the possibility to advance in their professions by maintaining a work-life balance.
The attractive prospects of cutting down on time spent commuting and ending the need to squeeze in errands into a lunch break empowers the worker to have more ability to decide how they distribute their working day.
With more business leaders calling time on the traditional 9 to 5, many workers are making it clear that employers can keep their desk massages and ping pong tables in favour of offering a degree of flexibility over an employee’s work location and by extension, their professional lives.