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Remote jobs unhealthy, here to stay, but lots left to make digital workflows work

Recent surveys show that work from home (WFH) is only at the beginning of what would become am industry dedicated to bolstering the new work environment with investments, tools, and technology

90% of staff working from home in the UAE are connected to work every hour of the day Digital workflows are the way business gets done in the 21st century. There’s no going back 91% of global executives still have offline workflows: Document approvals, security incident reports, and tech support requests

Depression, uncertainty, and loneliness. Just a few of the large variety of ailments that remote workers are exposed to albeit sheltered from exposure to COVID-19.

Recent surveys show that work from home (WFH) is only at the beginning of what would become am industry dedicated to bolstering the new work environment with investments, tools, and technology.  

Digital workflows are the future of WFH.

Here are the latest stats and findings on this sector.

Bad to health  

In a report by The National, more than 90% of staff working from home in the UAE are connected to work every hour of the day.

A recent survey by Cigna Insurance to mark World Mental Health Day showed people are working longer hours, suffering sleep deprivation, and risking burnout.

The survey revealed 64% of people had to work over the weekend in August, a significant increase from before the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Another aspect impacting physical health is stress, rising from an ‘always-on’ work culture and overwork. People found themselves working late and on weekends, leading to 96% of respondents reporting stress in June and 91% in September,” said Jerome Droesch, chief executive of Cigna’s Middle East and African division.

“Cigna’s Covid-19 global impact study noted that the UAE’s scoring on the physical well-being index declined from 65.9 points in April to 62.4 points in September this year,” Droesch added.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization warned that the pandemic was causing mental health conditions due to factors including loss of income, isolation, and uncertainty.

The survey did record a drop in companies offering remote work from 71% in April to 41% in August.

Read: Remote work cyber protection lacking: GCC region under attack

WFH impact on work

ServiceNow, a leading digital workflow company released The Work Survey, a comprehensive global survey on COVID-19’s impact on work and the opportunities ahead for a wave of digital innovation in how people work and businesses operate.  

Said ServiceNow CEO Bill McDermott: “Digital workflows are the way business gets done in the 21st century. There’s no going back. Digital transformation will accelerate. New ways of working will become the norm. We are on the cusp of an unprecedented wave of workflow and workplace innovation.” 

Key global findings include:

91% of executives and 87% of employees say their company transitioned to new ways of working faster than they thought possible.

COVID-19 has reduced operating expenses for 88% of global businesses surveyed, creating opportunities for investments in digital transformation, research and development, marketing, and growth.

Half of executives (50%) and a little over half of employees (53%) think transitioning to the new normal will be even more challenging than the initial shock of COVID-19. 

91% of global executives admitted they still have offline workflows, including document approvals, security incident reports, and technology support requests. Progress has been made, but months into working from home, 60% of executives and 59% of employees say their companies still do not have a fully integrated system to manage digital workflows.

While executives (99%) and employees (94%) overwhelmingly tout the benefits of remote working, the challenges are becoming more apparent. 

Both executives (93%) and employees (83%) express real concerns about how remote work will impact the business moving forward.  

Across the globe, executives are most worried about outputs: Delays in product or service delivery (54%).

Employees are most concerned about the inputs: Reduced collaboration between business units (48%). 

60% of employees believe their company will prioritize business continuity over workplace safety. More surprising is the fact that 44% of executives actually believe this as well. 

Commenting on the findings, applied futurist and author, Tom Cheesewright, said: “Layers of culture, process and behavior need to be designed and overlaid on the technological foundations together with a new social contract agreed between employer and employee that embraces distributed working.”

More information about The Work Survey can be found here.

Use of Data in business strategy

SAP has announced a new research study, in partnership with Oxford Economics, designed to discover how businesses are incorporating a holistic management approach into everyday business strategy and operations.

Key findings include:

32% of organizations are investing in new technologies to analyze data.

The top three technologies seeing investment are artificial intelligence (34%), the Internet of Things (33%), and analytics (27%).

34% are retraining employees to work with data.

Technology investments are contributing to organizational success, including improving citizen and customer experiences (48%), employee experiences (47%), and employee productivity (46%).

“Across the UAE, organizations that digitally transform into Intelligent Enterprises can become more resilient, and both sustainably profitable and profitably sustainable,” said Sergio Maccotta, Senior Vice President, SAP Middle East South. 

Similarly, in the UAE, a recent YouGov survey shows that 76% of IT decision-makers in the UAE agree that the public cloud is important for integrating future technology.

In the Middle East and North Africa, SAP is seeing rapid digital transformation among seven key industry verticals: banking, government, healthcare, oil and gas, professional services, retail, and utilities. 

Middle East organizations are facing numerous challenges, including instituting remote work, changing workforce needs, supply chain disruption, reskilling and retraining employees, and getting closer to their customers.

“Across the Middle East, industry verticals are readily adopting the latest real-time innovations, from better understanding employee readiness for remote work to video-based courses, and posting sourcing needs from suppliers across the world on digital platforms,” added Sergio Maccotta.  

Read the study “Beyond the Crisis: How Interconnected Businesses Exhibit Leadership and Resiliency.”

Read: Remote work cyber protection lacking: GCC region under attack

WFH attacks 

Consumers and businesses in the UAE suffered more than 600,000 phishing attacks at the peak of the Covid-19 movement restrictions, according to Kaspersky.

From April to the end of June, more than 2.57 million phishing attacks were detected across the Middle East.

Nearly 69% of chief executives believe AI will be required to respond to cyberattacks, while 80% of executives in the telecoms industry believe they will need to depend on AI in cybersecurity, a Forbes report said.