New study finds 60 per cent of UAE workforce skip the office to work elsewhere

  • IWG reveals the results of largest ever poll on flexible working attitudes – surveying over 18,000 professionals from a range of different industries across 96 countries

More than half of UAE employees work remotely every week, and over 50% do so for at least half of the week, heralding a major reassessment of corporate real estate, according to new study by International Workplace Group (IWG), the parent group of leading workspace companies including Regus.

The UAE study was part of a comprehensive global study based on the insights of over 18,000 business people across 96 companies. It found that every week 60% of the UAE employees are working at least one day a week somewhere other than the office. More than half (52%) work remotely for half of the week or more, whilst one in 10 (10%) people work outside of their company’s main office location five times a week.

Globally, the results reflected a similar trend in the workforce with every week 70% of employees are working at least one day a week somewhere other than the office. According to the study, the emergence of this mobile workforce has been driven by technological change, globalisation and changes in employee expectations.

Mark Dixon, founder and CEO of IWG, said: “People from Seattle to Singapore, London to Lagos no longer need to spend so much time in a particular office.

“We are entering the era of the mobile workforce and it is hugely exciting. Not just for individual employees, but for businesses too. This is a huge shift in the workspace landscape globally, and businesses are now looking closely at what this means for their corporate real estate portfolios.”

The study by IWG also found that UAE businesses recognised that offering flexible working strategies to their employees provided them with significant benefits:

  • Business growth (91% – 2% above the global average)
  • Competitiveness (97% – 10% above the global average)
  • Productivity (85% – 3% above the global average)
  • Attracting and retaining top talent (84% – 4% above the global average)
  • Profit maximisation (91% – 8% above the global average)

For generations, the world has understood office-based work to involve a fixed location and a 9-5 schedule. But an unprecedented number of businesses are now adopting a very different working model, which produces benefits for them and their workers.

The IWG survey found that flexible working not only reduces commuting time, but enhances productivity, staff retention, job satisfaction and even creativity. This is in addition to the financial and strategic advantages that it brings for businesses.

Creating a happier, more productive workforce

The move to flexible workspaces reflects the changing demands and expectations of the workforce. 84% of those surveyed in the UAE agree that flexible working helps them retain top talent whilst 65% are now offering this to help them recruit. Almost half (44%) agreed that offering flexible working improves job satisfaction, demonstrating the need for businesses to provide working environments suited to today’s employees to maintain a first-class workforce.

The benefits UAE businesses are experiencing are clear: a resounding 86% said that flexible workspaces enable employees to be more productive while on the move.

Ian Hallett, IWG Group Managing Director and Global Head of Brands and Ventures, said: “New technologies mean many of us can now work anytime, anywhere. The challenge for businesses is how to optimise this new landscape. Companies are realising the benefits of flexible working and its ability to increase productivity, job satisfaction and business performance.”

Everyone is demanding ‘on-demand’

The survey showed also that flexible working and the use of shared workspaces are no longer the preserve of start-ups. The world’s most successful businesses – including varied companies such as Etihad Airways, Diesel, GSK, Mastercard, Microsoft, Oracle and Uber – are already adopting a flexible workspace approach.

Mr Dixon added: “Changes in technology and digitalisation have led to a growing use of on-demand services generally in business, with organisations of all sizes wanting to increasingly outsource non-core activities.

“Flexible working, supported by a professional on-demand workspace network, is now being discussed by senior leaders across functions in companies including risk management, business development, human resources, marketing and strategy.

“One day soon, flexible working could simply be known as ‘working’. We are reaching the tipping point.”

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