HR professionals, employers and employees in the UAE said the new Saturday-Sunday weekend will be a moral booster Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: The reduced work week starting January 2022 is expected to boost the morale of the working force, according to HR professionals and employees across different organisations.

The unprecedented move by the UAE government bringing down the work week to four-and-a-half days has been widely welcomed by them.

Aligning with global markets

Rohan Nathan

Rohan Nathan, managing partner of an HR firm in Dubai, said the UAE government is impressing the business community with a series of new announcements. “Moving to a Monday-Friday working week is an amazing step to bring the economy in line with the rest of the global markets. At Nathan & Nathan, 50 per cent of our business comes from companies operating in the USA, UK, Europe and Asia - this had left us with a communication delay on Fridays and Sundays.”

He added: “The new week will substantially improve communication and trade between global markets as we will have one extra day aligned to do business, which means 20 per cent more time. In addition, we anticipate employee wellbeing and happiness to improve as people can connect with family and friends around the world on Sundays when they are off and enjoy televised international sporting and other events that typically are broadcast on Sundays.”

Major shift in thinking

Meghna Dixit

Meghna Dixit, a senior HR & consultant, said: “A major shift in how we think about and approach work is a precursor to standardising a 4.5-day work week. Working from home, during COVID-19 times has prepared us to deliver results with flexi-timing and multi-tasking, and now we appreciate the work-life balance even more. As an HR professional, I am positive that this change will improve the employee experience as they will achieve the same results - or more - in fewer hours than before, hence they will get more time to pursue other interests, spend time with loved ones, and manage their lives. I applaud the UAE Government for setting an example for the world to follow, with such a positive change in the work environment.”

Good news amid recovery phase

Hasan Rasheed

Hasan Rasheed, Head of HR and Admin, Global Food Industries, said: “For the people living in UAE, this action will leave a very positive impact, considering that we are coming from a recovery phase of COVID-19. We, at Global Food Industries and International Beverage & Filling Industries, also welcome this move and will be working with our corporate team to harmonise the implementation of the new workweek and the weekends according to the directives planned for the private sector.’’

Friday work-from-home day?

Jyoti Varindani

Jyoti Varindani, a senior HR specialist, said the new weekend timing aligns with global markets. She reckons many private sector employers will designate Friday as a work-from-home day just like the service industry.

“There will most likely be no reduction in weekly working hours for private sector except if an employer agrees to a reduction. However, it would be interesting to see how service industries working with government entities will have an impact,” she said.

“Based on UAE labour law, the private sector employees are entitles to have one rest day per week [not a dedicated day] so irrespective of an announcement for private sector, I believe most of the employers will opt for Saturday and Sunday off to align with the government considering all UAE government ministries, authorities, courts and schools will be closed.”

Morale booster

Bijay Shah

Bijay Shah, national director for a networking firm with over 670 businesses under its profile, said: “Hats off to the UAE Government for implementing this new weekend. Many businesses have welcomed this change openly as it actually aligns to the global markets, which will lead to a growth in business cross-border. Personally, I am amazed that this is a trigger for the private sector to consider reducing their working week, which will boost their employee morale and overall lifestyle balance.”

Competitive edge

Abubakar Imtiaz

Abubakar Imtiaz, CEO of Inspire Facilities Management, said: “As always, the UAE is leading from the front and setting a pathway of work-life balance for other countries to follow. Among its GCC peers, it would definitely make the UAE more competitive, since it is better aligned with the global working norms. Aligning the workweek with global standards would mean fund transfers would also be smooth, particularly within the banking sector.”

Imtiaz added: “Adopting an agile working system will enable the UAE to rapidly respond to emerging changes and enhance wellbeing in the workplace.”

New weekend, new mindset

Rebecca Andrews

Rebecca Andrews, an entrepreneur, said: “The new work weekend in the UAE is a welcome change. We get to align with the rest of the world in terms of work, business, and personal priorities. The adjustment to the new norm might take some time but that will eventually settle down. The psychological impact to change is to be conscious that change is expected and get started to anticipate the change much ahead. This will certainly help us to embrace change and life itself.”

UAE always at the forefront

Nikhil Nanda

Similarly, Nikhil Nanda, Operations Manager, Innovations Group, said: “The UAE leadership has always been at the forefront to build a modern and progressive nation. The announcement about the new work week is certainly another step towards encouraging people in the UAE to strike a work-life balance, which has always been a challenge. The new work week will offer flexibility and help people transition into a better lifestyle with some additional time to spend with family or pursue any other interests. Depending on various industry requirements, businesses should aim to align with the new norms.”

Connecting with loved ones back home

Albert Alba

Filipino expat Albert Alba, a PR, communications and marketing professional, said: “The UAE’s shift to a Saturday-Sunday weekend is another pioneering move in the region and is in line with the nation’s rapidly growing status as a major player within a highly globalised economy... As an expatriate from Southeast Asia, this is indeed a very welcome development when it gets adopted by the private sector because we can now share the same weekend with our families back home.”

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