Sad face
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“I am so sad, I feel the tears welling up already,” Andrea told Gulf News, when asked about how she feels to be returning to full-day working hours. “Oh I’ll be devastated,” Haia Machfij said.

After Ramadan, and a nice long Eid holiday, residents across the UAE are returning to work and kicking off their first full working hour day after a month of finishing early.

During the month of Ramadan, working hours for the private sector were reduced by two hours from the company work hours, while the working hours for all ministries and federal entities were reduced to five hours, starting at 9am and ending at 2pm. This law is issued yearly by the federal government. Whether you were or were not fasting, during Ramadan, residents were able to benefit from fewer working hours. It comes as no surprise, that almost everyone loved having a shorter workday.

“Not only are you more productive with less hours,” said Hiba Hani “but you're more eager to get work done, and you have much more time in the evening to do things, which in turn makes you more energised when dealing with work.

“It was obviously much nicer being able to leave during the day in Ramadan. It felt like I finally had work-life balance for once,” said Diana Khambatta. “It didn’t feel like the whole day had gone into working. I had time to do other things in the day, pursue other interests. So it’ll be a bit of an adjustment going back to longer hours for sure.”

Decreasing the workday by two to three hours in fact allows employees to feel happier as well as less stressed. Many research findings substantiate the fact that productivity levels go up by around 20 per cent. It is important for human to have time to just enjoy their life. To work for half the day, then go and work on themselves at the gym, go to the beach, relax and spend time with family and just have a healthy balance in their lives. When a work day ends at 6pm and traffic takes up the rest of your evening, all you really have left is two to three hours in the darker parts of the day to truly live. 

“My work day in Ramadan showed me that working from 9am to 4pm is just right. It was great that everyone across the UAE was finishing their day at the same time. It meant that emails stopped coming in after 3pm, so it gave me time to really wrap up my day and plan for the next one,” said Mahitab Hosny.

“Having a shorter work day forced me to become more responsible and take it upon myself to finish my assigned tasks in less time,” said Ahmed Atallah. “I admit however that the incentive was so that I can get home sooner.” Still the work was done ahead of schedule. 

What if you have a lot of work to do?

“During Ramadan, when I had a lot of work on a particular day, I would happily stay back to finish what needed to be completed. Or I would take it home and work from there. I guess it was the flexibility and having the choice is what made all the difference,” said Diana.

“When my overall work time was limited, I was more focused on getting things done. It was like a wonderful race against the clock. I wrote down my to do list and I got soooo much done knowing I’ll leave at 3pm,” Haia said to Gulf News.

"It is within a company's benefit now that they allow for flexibl timings. When you look at modern tech companies, all of them have insanely flexible offering," said Tarek Roumie. "There are reasons and benefits behind that. Less hours in the office, means less people in the office, which means less overheads on real estate and less spent on water, electricity and resources to keep the office running for longer. I work in Marketing and Community Management and I myself would not work a desk job, because it is a hinderance to what I do, which is going out and speaking to people, instead of being at my desk first thing in the morning. 

All I'm thinking about today is why we don't normally work until 4pm. I mean, we did it just fine during Ramadan. I just can’t find a logical reason 😫